Using Excel


Excel is a powerful tool for analysis, but you need to enter data correctly in order to make full use of it.

Here are some principles to follow when setting up the data

  • Set up the spreadsheet so that the cases or occasions are in rows and the categories of data form the columns.
  • Put only a single type of data in each cell. For example don’t put data and units in the same cell. If you are specifying weights, put the units in the column headers so that the cells only contain numbers. If you have notes or explanations make a special column for notes or use the comment feature.
  • Don’t separate entries with blank rows or columns.
  • Don’t include headings between rows. If you need to group data then do so using a grouping column. Add another column in which you indicate the group that each row belongs to. This will allow you to sort by group later.
  • Don’t delete data from your dataset. Instead make another column to store the included or excluded status. Then add another column in which you put notes about why you excluded the cases you exclude.
  • Keep each heading in a single cell, even if it has to wrap over more than one line. Don’t put subheadings in a cell below the heading cell.

Following these principles will make it much easier to sort your data so you can easily count it and do other operations like find means and standard deviations. It will also make it easier to graph or to upload into statistical software.


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