Microsoft Excel is a computer software program that is used for organising and analysing data in tables and graphs. It can be used to create reports, track expenses, and more.
Excel also has a number of features that allow you to perform data analysis, including pivot tables, formulas, and charts.
But why would users use Excel data analysis?
Well, data analysis can help you see trends, spot outliers, and make predictions. It can also help you to understand your data better so that you can make better decisions
And it’s not just for businesses – you can use data analysis for personal purposes, too. For instance, you could use it to track your fitness progress or monitor your spending habits.
No matter what your reason for using Excel data analysis, there are a few basic steps that you’ll need to follow in order to get started.
Data gathering is the first stage of almost every Excel spreadsheet, and the two most important questions that you need to ask yourself is: how are you going to lay this data out and what do you want to do with it?
Data can come from so many different sources and be used for so many different purposes, that the analysis tools and options may vary. Gathering data is relatively simple, however, as you can input your data into the spreadsheet and go from there.
There are so many different tools available in Excel to help you analyse your data. You can sort it, filter it, and format it. You can turn it into charts and tables, and you can create forecasts that will give you projections based on certain scenarios happening.
The best options for you will depend on what you are using it for. For example, professionals may use Excel data analysis to create graphs for a presentation, while what-if analysis is perfect for anyone looking to budget into the future.
One of the most helpful things that Excel has to offer is that it allows you to sort your data. This brings order to a pile of messy numbers, and there are a lot of different options for you to choose from. Let’s break them down.
Custom Sort Order
Custom sort ordering is one of the simplest options for Excel users, and it allows you to create either one or several organised columns. For example, you can alphabetise a list of names, sort a column of numbers by size, and so on.
Sort By Colour
Sorting by colour would count as conditional formatting and is ideal if you are looking to highlight cells with certain values with certain information. You will need to create a formula that identifies those values, and this will sort them and assign them a colour.
While so many of the Excel formulas are about bringing order, there are tools that will help you randomise information. This is perfect for anyone who is dealing with a large amount of feedback from customers, for example, or needing to ensure a total lack of bias in the data.
When you are dealing with a massive spreadsheet with a huge amount of information, you are going to want a quick way to cut through the noise and filter out the cells that have what you are looking for.
Number & Text Filters
When you input information into a cell, Excel will store that information in case you want to use the filter option. For example, if you are looking for cells with a certain name, you can find the filter option in the data tab and that name will come up as an option.
If you are working on a spreadsheet where the date of the information is included, you may want to focus on the cells with one specific date. When you apply this criterion through the filter, only the cells relating to that date will appear.
The above filter options are easy to find when you click the filter option in your Excel spreadsheet. Advanced filter options offer you a lot more flexibility and the option to move data around the sheet. You will need to create a formula for your advanced filter.
If more than one person is working on a spreadsheet, then there is a good chance that you may see some duplication. This also happens if people have entered their information multiple times. The remove duplicate filter takes away any repeated information.
Conditional formatting covers a wide range of different analysis tools. In the simplest terms, conditional formatting means that you can find specific cells and highlight them to identify trends and patterns.
The conditional formatting button in Excel will give you the option to click Manage Rules. This will give you a range of different options of cells to highlight, including only cells that contain a certain value, only duplicate or unique values, and so on.
Data bars are a handy little visual way to demonstrate the value of a number in a cell. If you choose to format a column this way, there will be a bar of colour in each of the cells containing numbers that will be bigger or smaller depending on the number.
Colour scales are very similar to the number bars, except instead of the length of the bar varying according to the value of the number in the cells, the colour will be graded depending on the value that you choose.
Compare Two Lists
While using the filter options to weed out duplicates will get rid of that information for you, you can use conditional formatting to compare lists and highlight any cells that have the same or duplicate information.
Charts are one of best tools that Excel has to offer to anyone who wants to represent their data visually. Excel offers users a wide range of different visual charts that range from simple representations to demonstrating trends. Here are the most popular choices.
If you want to show how your data has changed over time, then a line chart may be your best option. Excel has a few different line chart options to choose from, including 2D and 3D. This is great for demonstrating trends.
A pie chart is the classic way to turn a bunch of data into an easily comprehensible image, breaking down the numbers in slices according to their proportion. You can choose from 2D, 3D and donut, but remember to make sure that cell A1 is clear.
If you want to show the relationship between two different factors on your data, then you may want to consider a scatter chart. There are several different scatter plot options depending on the type of impact you want to make.
Creating a trendline is a little more complicated. You will need to head to more options in the chart element tab, select Linear on trendline options, and choose the range that you are looking at. This is also helpful for forecasting data for your business and identifying patterns.
Pivot tables are a key element of intermediate to expert Excel use, and they are massively helpful to anyone who is looking to save time and find key information within a massive amount of data. They are one of Excel’s most valuable tools.
Grouping Pivot Table Items
Once you have created your pivot table, you can create groups within a column. Select the cells you wish to put in one group, right click and then hit group. Then, do the same with the cells you want in the second group. This will divide the information.
Slicers are so called because they are a way to quickly filter information in a pivot table. You can create slicers to only show you information relating to certain cells. For example, you can use them to show the data for a certain month, or from a certain employee.
Calculated Fields & Items
You can insert a calculated field or item into a pivot table. A calculated field will create a calculation based on information from the field you select, such as adding interest to a column of financial information. A calculated item will do this from other items and is useful for when rates may vary.
Adding a frequency distribution graph to your pivot table will show you how often certain information appears. This is great for tracking certain behaviour over time, for example, to help you focus on what is working and when.
Sometimes formulas in Excel can get a little complicated. This is where structured references come in. An example of a structured reference would be amount, which calculates the sum total of the information in the table. They will adjust automatically when anything changes.
It is easy for the eye to wander when you are looking at a large spreadsheet, and table styles help you to make your table more dynamic and eye-catching. When you click format as table, you will find a range of different options available.
Quick analysis does what it says on the tin. There are several different formulas that are ready to go to help you analyse your data. Highlight your cells, click Quick Analysis, and choose from totals, tables, charts, formatting and sparklines.
Creating a data table for what-if analysis allows you to play out what happens if you change numerical values, such as price. When you click Data Table, you can set the values and quickly find out what will happen in different scenarios.
If you know what you want to get to, then the goal seek is a great tool. Say you have a range of cells that add up to a certain amount. If you hit goal seek when highlighting those cells and input the number you want the sum total to be, it will show you what those numbers need to be.
The quadratic equation tool is one for the expert level Excel users. Quadratic equations help us to solve a problem where two multiplied numbers have a variable number in common. With Excel’s what-if analysis, quadratic equations can be simply solved.
There are so many different tools in Excel’s arsenal to help you to analyse and manage data. We have looked at how they range from simple graphs and tables to far more advanced equations and projections.
So, whether you are looking to manage your personal budget more effectively, improve your skills to apply for a job in finance, or look at how your small business can prepare for tough times ahead, visit The Excel Experts. We have a range of Excel courses available to help you.
What is the purpose of Excel data analysis?
Excel data analysis has a number of different purposes. It can help to make data more comprehensible with a chart or graph, it can sort data by specific criteria, and it can forecast projections using what-if formulas.
Why is Excel data analysis so important?
Excel data analysis is so important because it can help with decision making for businesses, it can help you to answer questions in a way that is time and effort effective, and it makes dealing with a huge amount of data manageable.
Why is Excel data analysis used for decision making?
Excel data analysis is used for decision making because it can help you to clearly see the trends in the numbers. It can show you what will happen to those numbers in the event of certain changes, and how disruptive forces can impact your business.
Where can I learn more about data analysis in Excel?
You can learn more about data analysis in Excel by enrolling in one of our courses. At The Excel Experts, we have course options available for one-on-one and group tutoring at beginner, intermediate and expert levels. Contact us to find out more.