Basic Economics (Quarterly)

Database Retrieval Glossary


A label is the identification tag associated with a time series. These tags are defined in the CITIBASE Data Dictionary. For example, POP identifies the population series for the U.S. Labels are case-insensitive. Labels vary in length between 1 and 8 characters.

Label List

A label list is an enumeration of individual labels for simultaneous retrieval. Lists are always surrounded by round parentheses, and list elements are separated by commas. For example, a label list could simply be an enumeration of labels as in (POP,PW). When retrieving multiple series, it is often useful to employ the "spreadsheet" output format.


CITIBASE contains monthly, quarterly, and annual data. The following DATE formats are supported:

  • for annual data:
    (Examples: 1980)
  • for monthly data:
    (Examples: 1980Mar, 198003)
    (Examples: 1980/Mar, 1980/03)
    (Examples: 1980-Mar, 1980-03)
  • for quarterly data:
    (Example: 19913 for the 3rd Quarter 1991)
    (Example: 1991/3 for the 3rd Quarter 1991)
    (Example: 1991-3 for the 3rd Quarter 1991)

    Character "Q" can also be used as a delimiter for quarterly data.
    (Example: 1991Q1 for the 1st Quarter of 1991)

Here {mmm,MM} stands for the abbreviated month name (Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec) or the two-digit month number (01-12); and YYYY stands for the full year number (4 digits). When a date is specified imprecisely, then the first sub-period of the specified period is substituted for the beginning of the time series, and the last sub-period of the specified period is substituted for the end of the time series. For example, if 1980 is specified instead of 1980-Mar, then the system assumes either 1980-Jan or 1980-Dec as the intended date, depending on whether the date was used to determine the beginning or the end of the time series.

Output Formats

Data can be retrieved in different formats that are suited for viewing, printing, and exporting to various statistical packages. The following formats are available:

  • plain: readable/printable output
  • TSP, SAS, SHAZAM, SPSS: output for statistics packages
  • spreadsheet: tabular format (automatic transposition)
  • Lotus: tabular format with strings quoted (automatic transposition)
  • LaTeX: tabular format for LaTeX (automatic transposition)
  • HTML: tabular format for HTML-3.0-compliant WWW-browsers (automatic transposition)

Data Dictionary: Series Titles Listings

CITIBASE Data Dictionary provides users with a listing of series labels and series titles. All labels have been grouped by the letter of alphabet and - within some letters - by futher sub-groups based on the topic to which the series refer.

The original listings of series titles, as provided on distribution tapes, are almost entirely composed of abbreviations. Moreover, those abbrevations are used in a very inconsistent manner, resulting in the same word being rendered in a number of ways. Although for plain listings of series this may be merely annoying, but not fatal, a data dictionary with 80% of words being abbreviated in an inconsistent fashion is useless for keyword searches. We have, therefore, implemented filters which expand all abbreviations in the original series titles into full words. Well - almost all. Some abbreviations may have slipped through, a few were difficult to decipher, but - all in all - the "expanded" data dictionary is much cleaner, much more meaningful to view, and can be used for keyword searches. The original abbreviated series titles can still be viewed when series are accessed by clicking on their labels, and when retrieving data.

When searching the data dictionary by keyword(s), only the expanded version of the dictionary is used, since the original one would probably not render any results of such keyword searches.

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