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Using Simmons NCS to Analyze Consumer Preferences: Interpret Crosstab Tables

Interpreting Crosstab Data: What Do You Want to See?

Once you've run a crosstab, you will see all the numbers available within each cell. This is a lot of data to try to read at once.  

screenshot of simmons results

It will be easier for you to see trends if you decide to only view one or two ways of looking at the data at once.  Do this by unchecking the boxes above the table.  Below are descriptions of the index number, sample and weighted numbers, and vertical and horizontal percentages.  These should give you an idea of which numbers will be most useful to you.

Index Numbers

Index numbers are an easy way to identify trends.  They tell you if the consumers who meet the conditions of both the column and the row (for example, college attendees who make $10,000-$14,000) are likely.  100 is average, so anything above is more likely, and anything below 100 is less likely. In this example, the index number is 68, indicating that it is fairly uncommon for college attendees to make $10,000-$14,000, compared to the general population.  It is quite common for respondents who did not graduate from high school to earn $10,000-$14,000.

screenshot of results with index number

You will also notice that the index number for all rows and columns identified with Total are 100, which is not very useful.  This is because the index number is a calculation based on the combination of the row and the column population.

Sample and Weighted

If you choose to view the sample, you will view the absolute number of respondents who responded in the affirmative for both the row and the column.  So, for example, out of 25,564 respondents, 1,087 said they made $10,000-$14,000. The weighted number extrapolates this sample to the entire U.S. population.  So, based on Simmons data, we might conclude that about 11,848,000 Americans make $10,000-$14,000.  This generalization should be used with caution.  Census data, which is collected from all U.S. households, would be more accurate than data derived from a sample.

Vertical and Horizontal %

The Horizontal and Vertical percentages are extremely useful numbers, but can be difficult to read.  When reading the Vertical %, begin with the variable in the column (top).  So, 25% of respondents who make $10,000-$14,000 (column) did not graduate from high school (row).

screenshot of vertical % results

When reading the Horizontal %, begin with the variable in the row (side).  So, 11% of respondents who did not graduate from high school (rowmake $10,000-$14,000 (column).

screenshot of horizontal results

Export Results to Excel

Once you've customized your results so they display the data you want, you can export them to Excel. Click the blue Export button and then choose your version of Excel.

screenshot of export option

* Beware of Asterisks *

A single asterisk (*) indicates that the data in a cell is unstable and should be used with caution.  Two asterisks (**) indicate that the cell represents fewer than 30 respondents.

Learn More: Interpreting Crosstab Data User Guide

If you would like to learn more about interpreting crosstab data, here is a guide from Simmons.  It's also available under the Resources tab in the database.