That Mysterious Colon (:)

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Haiping Luo

Dept. of Veterans Affairs

Washington, DC


The colon (:) plays certain roles in SAS coding. Its usage, however, is not well documented nor is it clearly indexed in SAS manuals. This paper shows how a colon can be used as a label indicator, an operator modifier, a format modifier, a key word component, a variable name wildcard, an array bound delimiter, an argument feature delimiter, a special log indicator, or an index creation operator. Mastering these usages can give your code needed functionality and/or an efficiency lift.

Online resources

View the .pdf of this paper.