Do-it-yourself control and data file construction

There is a control and data file setup or Tabbed Text procedure. They are easier!


Here is a step-by-step guide to setting up and running Winsteps. It is a little tricky the first time, but you'll soon find it's a breeze!


The first stage is to set up your data in a rectangular data file in "MS-DOS text with line breaks" format.


1. Obtain your data


You'll need to be a little organized. Think of your data as a wall of pigeon-holes.


(a) Each column corresponds to one item, probe, prompt, task, agent, ....


For each column, you will need an item name or label. Make these short, only one or two words long. Make a list of these in a document file. Put the label of the first item on the first line, etc.

Put END LABELS on the line after the last item.

Your list will look like this:






Stair climbing



You can use Notepad or your own text editor or pull-down the Winsteps "Edit" menu, and select "Create/Edit file with Notepad"


(b) Each row of pigeon-holes corresponds to one person, subject, case, object, ...


You will need some useful identifying codes for each row such as age, gender, demographics, diagnosis, time-point. Winsteps doesn't require these. but its is much more useful when they appear. Give each of these identifiers one or two letter codes, e.g., F=Female, M=Male, and give each identifier a column of pigeon-holes.


(c) The Data must be carefully lined up.

It is simpler if each data point, observation, response, rating can be squeezed into one character - numeric or alphabetic.


Now create the data file. It will look like something this:


M 29 B 001 210212110200102

F 27 W 002 122121010201020

F 32 H 003 222210102112100

M 31 W 004 002010021000210


or, less conveniently,







After the END LABELS line, or in a separate file,

on each line enter the person identifying codes. Line them up so that each column has a meaning. This is easier if you set the font to Courier.


Then enter the responses, starting with the first item and continuing to the last.

Do not place spaces or tabs between the responses.

If the lines start to wrap-around, reduce the font size, or increase the page size.



Your data may already be entered in a spread-sheet, statistics program or database.

"Copy and Paste", Save As, Export or Print to disk the data from that program into "DOS-text with line breaks" or ASCII file.


If the program puts in extra blanks or separators (e.g., Tabs or commas), remove them with a "global replace" in your text editor or word processor.


To replace a Tab with nothing, highlight the space where a Tab is. Then Ctrl+c to copy. Global replace. Ctrl+V put a Tab into "From". Put nothing in "To". Action Global Replace.


In Excel, reduce the column width to one column, then

"Save As" Formatted Text (Spaced delimited) (*.prn)


In SPSS, see SPSS pull-down menu.


2. Set up your Winsteps Control and Data file


(a) Edit Template.txt

Pull-down the Edit menu, select "Create new control file from= ....\Template.txt"


The Template.txt will be displayed on your screen by Notepad or your own text editor.


(b) Template.txt is a Winsteps Control and Data file

Find the three sections:


top: down to &END are Control Specifications

we will edit this in a moment


middle: between &END and END LABELS are the Item Labels

copy and paste the item labels from your list into this area.

one item label per line, in the order of the labels.


bottom: below END LABELS are the data

copy and paste the person labels and responses into this area.

one person per line (row).


(c) Edit the Control Specifications


Find the line "Title="

Replace Put your page heading here with your own page heading.


Look at a data line, and count across:


In which column does the person identifying label start, the first position of the person name?

This is the Name1= value

e.g., if it is column 4, then Name1=-4


How long is the person identifying label, the name length?

This is the Namlen= value

e.g., if it is 10 columns, then Namlen=10


In which column is the response to the first item?

This is the Item1= value

e.g., if the first response is in column 12, then Item1=12


How many items are there, the number of items?

This is the NI= value

e.g., if the number of items is 50, then NI=50


What are the valid item response codes in the data file?

This is the Codes= value

e.g., if the codes are 1,2,3,4, then Codes=1234


If your codes are not numeric, then you will need to rescore them.

See Data recoding


This is usually enough for your first Winsteps run.


(d) "Save As" the Template.txt file with your own file name.

Winsteps accepts any valid file name.


3. Run Winsteps


To the prompt:

Control file name? (e.g., KCT.txt). Press Enter for Dialog Box:

Press the Enter key

Select your control file from the dialog box

Press the Enter key


Report output file name (or press Enter for temporary file):

Press the Enter key


Extra specifications (if any). Press Enter to analyze):

Press the Enter key

This is used for making just-in-time changes to your control file instructions, for this run only.


4. Your analysis commences


5. Your analysis concludes.


If there is an error message:

select "Edit Control File=" from the Winsteps Edit menu

correct the control file

save it

select "Exit, then Restart Winsteps" from the File menu


If "Measures constructed" -

use the Output Tables pull-down menus to look at the Output Tables

here is the list of output tables.


6. Exit Winsteps using the X in the top right corner.

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Rasch Models: Foundations, Recent Developments, and Applications, Fischer & Molenaar Journal of Applied Measurement Rasch models for measurement, David Andrich Constructing Measures, Mark Wilson Rasch Analysis in the Human Sciences, Boone, Stave, Yale
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