I am trying to lazily create a table of means and standard errors for a longish list of variables. It seems that the `estout`

package from SSC and `tabstat`

are the best tools, but I can't get the local macros to work properly to specify `esttab`

's `cells()`

option.

```
sysuse auto, clear
* build macro for `cells()` option
local i = 1
foreach v of varlist price weight displacement {
local cells "`cells'" " `v'"
if (`i' == 1) local cells "`cells'(fmt(%9.3gc))"
local ++i
}
* properly built
display "`cells'"
* but does not work with `esttab`
estpost tabstat price weight displacement, statistics(mean semean)
esttab ., cells("`cells'")
```

This yields an "empty" table.

```
. esttab ., cells("`cells'")
-------------------------
(1)
b
-------------------------
-------------------------
N 74
-------------------------
```

It seems that `cells()`

needs to see double quotes, but my attempts to add them with single and double quotes at any point in the process. Is there a way to make this approach work? I would like to avoid manually generating the `cells()`

argument.

```
* The following approach does work.
esttab ., cells("price(fmt(%9.3gc)) weight displacement")
```

This yields the correct table.

```
. esttab ., cells("price(fmt(%9.3gc)) weight displacement")
---------------------------------------------------
(1)
price weight displacement
---------------------------------------------------
mean 6,165 3,019 197
semean 343 90.3 10.7
---------------------------------------------------
N 74
---------------------------------------------------
```

Answer:

@Nick has already given a solution to the problem. He claims only stylistic changes were made, but I suspect more.

The double quotes originally used by the poster introduce an additional word in the definition of `local cells`

. That is clear when we count the words contained in the local macro using the *extended macro function* `: word count`

. @Richard works with three variables, but we count four words. Carefull inspection shows that the additional, *surprise word*, is `""`

, introduced in the loop its first time around.

In this case, using `display`

to check the contents of the local is misleading, because the command will simply do away with `""`

. As a result, we see on screen "three" words. Displaying each word (one by one), more clearly shows that the first one is a blank.

What this means is you are coding something like:

```
esttab ., cells(""" price weight displacement")
```

when you really mean

```
esttab ., cells("price weight displacement")
```

Below I post some code consistent with this hypothesis. To simplify exposition, I have stripped away unnecessary complications from the original code.

```
sysuse auto, clear
// build macro
local i = 1
foreach v of varlist price weight displacement {
local cells "`cells'" " `v'"
*local cells `cells' `v'
}
// check contents of macro cells
local wc : word count "`cells'"
display `wc'
forvalues i = 1/4 {
local w`i' : word `i' of "`cells'"
display "`w`i''"
}
// display a test
local test "" " price" " weight" " displacement"
local wct : word count "`test'"
display `wct' // four words also
// more displays
display "`cells'"
display """ price weight displacement" // same display result
// tables
// post
quietly estpost tabstat price weight displacement, statistics(mean semean)
// original with error
esttab ., cells("`cells'")
// original with error after dereferencing the local macro cells
esttab ., cells(""" price weight displacement")
```

Nick's solution, that doesn't use double quotes, solves the problem.

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