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A variable name is a name given to a variable in a data file. It is usually an abbreviation or a code that in some way represents the variable's meaning (e.g., age or q42. Variable names tend to be used when writing expressions to create new variables (e.g., Q3 + Q4 * 2). Historically, the names of variables were restricted to being eight characters or less and to have no punctuation (e.g., Q23a), but the only common restriction in more modern programs is that variable names may not contain spaces.