How to Use Excel for Statistics

by Anne Minard

Microsoft's Excel program is a lot more than a way to store and organize data in a spreadsheet. With a working knowledge of the program, you can use Excel to analyze your numerical data in a variety of useful ways. Here's how.

From any Excel spreadsheet, click on the "Function" icon in the top toolbar. It looks like a lower-case "f" with a subtext "x" to the right of it.

Select "Statistics" in the left column of the pop-up "Paste Function" dialog box.

Choose the statistical process you wish to use. A wide variety of options includes everything from a simple averaging operation to more complicated analysis like the Student's T-test.

Once you have selected your test, you'll be asked to define a range of numbers to analyze. You may enter the range yourself A1:A10, for example, would denote a 10-item, single-column list at the start of Column A. Or you can click on the chart-with-red-arrow icon at the end of the first blank to hide the dialog box, and click and drag on the target data range to highlight it yourself. Then click "Enter."

Look for the solution to your statistical inquiry at the bottom of the dialog box.

Tip

  • check While some of Excel's statistical tools are straightforward, others require a working knowledge of higher-order statistical operations. For complex inquiries like Analysis of Variance (ANoVA) or T-tests, for example, consult a statistical expert or text.

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About the Author

Anne Minard is a freelance writer with an academic background in biology. Her science writing has appeared in numerous newspapers, magazines, and online sites -- and one book, Pluto and Beyond. She also indulges frequent wanderlust, and her travel and adventure stories have popped up in outlets ranging from her own blog to the L.A. Times