How to set up for analysis on Excel



You want to get started trying your hand at analysis, but you don’t know where to start.  You can do some simple calculations in Excel but are overwhelmed at the thought of turning it into a fully functional model.  You hear about R and Hadoop and big data and you don’t know what any of that means.  You may have opened teradata on your work computer, looked at the interface, and were not sure where to start.


Does any of that sound familiar to you?  If that is holding you back, I can help you get started.  I will start by guiding you through analysis using Microsoft Excel.  Excel is a super powerful spreadsheet that is capable of complex statistical calculations.  It is also installed on almost every business computer, or can be easily added by your IT department.


Surprisingly the biggest drawback of beginning analysis in Excel is a lack of good info available to walk you through how to actually do it.  Microsoft has great instructions on the various functions in Excel, but that does not help if you are not sure what function to use.  I had trouble finding sites that walk you through performing an analysis end to end and not just examples of what various functions can do.  That gap in information is one of the many reasons I started The Analytics Dude.


Microsoft knows that most people will not use more than 10% of the analytical power of Excel.  Microsoft wants to keep their software streamlined for non-power users, so they require you to turn on many of the analytical functions.  The Analysis ToolPak is part of the software, you only need to turn it on (directions below).



Note: do not turn on the VBA option unless you know how to write VBA code and you are planning to use it.


Regardless of what analysis platform you will eventually utilize, you will often use Excel as the method to report or share your results.  Excel makes it easy to create graphs, manipulate formatting, and send to others because almost everyone in business has it.


I recommend beginning to work on analysis with Excel before building towards other programs that fit your specific needs or talents.  Once you get started in Excel, there are several more powerful and specialized analysis programs currently used in the business world.


Check out our material on other programs at the Start Here page.


9 thoughts on “How to set up for analysis on Excel

  1. You make the complex simple and draw amazing connections between disconnected subjects to increase clarity. Well on your way to thought leadership!

  2. Hi Eric, I am doing a project right now and I do not have access to Minitab. I used a program in a Stats class before called Statcrunch that was great for hypothesis testing, t-stats, z-scores, etc. I have heard that you can do some of the same calculation in Excel and create Pareto Charts, Histograms, etc., but I have never really used it in that fashion. I may have missed it in the article, but how do you turn on the Analysis ToolPak in Excel and do have any good sites that you found that outlines a menu of the statistical formulas available for use with the extension?

    1. Update:
      I found and enable the Analysis Toolpak function and am ready to get started. Now on to what and how I want to use it…

      1. Glad you found it. The directions were an image embedded in the text, perhaps it did not come through when you loaded the post?

        1. it didn’t come through the first time I read the article Eric, but today I see it. Thanks again for the post.

    2. Hey Andre, I actually have not found much good info on using excel for business statistics. That is one of my primary motivations for writing this blog.

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