This issue might causing more people troubles than just me, so I thought to post it on my blog. For a scientific articles I needed to create some graphs, both from SPSS (a Kaplan-Meier curve) and Excel (the other graphs).
As a default setting, my computer uses the comma as the decimal separator. For these figures I needed to change it into a dot as the decimal separator. The approach is different for Excel and SPSS.
Using dot as decimal separator in Excel (version 2011 for Mac)
Go to “System Preferences” > “International” (called “Taal en tekst” in Dutch).
Then go to the “Formats” tab (called “Notatie” in Dutch), and customize the number settings. Here you can change the decimal separator to “dot” (and the thousand separator to “comma”, as these two cannot have the same value).
Now restart Excel, and you’re done!
Using dot as decimal separator in SPSS (version 18 for Mac)
This works a little different, as SPSS (or “PASW”, as this first is called officially does not take its notation from the system preferences. But fortunately the solution is very easy.
Click “File” > “New” > “Syntax”. In the newly opened syntax editor, type
SET LOCALE = “en_US”
and click the green “Selection” arrow (or press Cmd + R on your keyboard).
This will change the decimal separator to a dot in SPSS.
Note: according to this website it should be possible to use the syntax “SET LOCALE = DOT” in SPSS version 20.0 (by IBM). At least in version 18.x this did not work.
Hope this saves you some time searching!