Drop 2.0: Small Stata Programming

I describe and introduce the program drop2, for more flexible data dropping

Fernando Rios-Avila


March 25, 2023

drop2: Upgrade

If you are an avid Stata user, who works extensively either using the command window, or dofiles, and who does lots of data-management, you are probably used to create large number of new variables, as well as delete an equally long lists of variables.

If you are like me, however, you probably get frustrated when the following happens:

  • You drop variables by mistake, because they start with the same name as the one you aim to delete.

  • A drop statement gives you an error, because a variable in the varlist does not exist.

Yes, both scenarios are easy to fix.

  • One can avoid the first problem using set varabbrev off.

  • The second problem can be partially partially fixed using capture in front of drop.

Well, today I bring you drop2. This small program should fix the problems above, with a very simple code:

program drop2
    novarabbrev {
        syntax anything 
        foreach i in `anything' {
            capture noisily fvexpand `i'            
            if _rc == 0 {
                drop `r(varlist)' 

It handles the first problem by forcing you to use full variable names, rather than abreviations. And it handles the second problem by going over your list of variables one by one, dropping only the ones in your dataset, giving you a warning if a variable does not exists.

To use this, you can run this code, create an ado file with the name drop2.ado, and save it in your personal ado folder1, or save it in the plus\d folder. You can also download the file from here

So, just for fun, a quick example!. You can run the following code to test the command.

sysuse auto, clear
describe, simple
drop2 p pr mpg
describe, simple
drop2 pr* mpg displacement
describe, simple

And it should produce the following ouput:

. sysuse auto, clear
(1978 automobile data)

. describe, simple
make          mpg           headroom      weight        turn          gear_ratio
price         rep78         trunk         length        displacement  foreign

. drop2 p pr mpg
variable p not found
variable pr not found

. describe, simple
make          rep78         trunk         length        displacement  foreign
price         headroom      weight        turn          gear_ratio

. drop2 pr* mpg displacement
variable mpg not found

. describe, simple
make        rep78       headroom    trunk       weight      length      turn        gear_ratio  foreign


  1. To see where your personal ado folder is, just type sysdir. ↩︎