Data Analysis in Excel (A Comprehensive Guideline)

In this article, we will learn how to analyze data in Excel, including:

  • Different Excel functions, such as VLOOKUP, INDEX-MATCH, SUMIFS, CONCAT, and LEN functions.
  • Using Excel charts – learn how to create various chart types, customize them, and interpret the insights they offer, and how to apply conditional formatting effectively for data analysis purposes.
  • Creating pivot tables, performing calculations, and generating insightful reports.
  • Using Excel’s sorting and filtering capabilities.
  • The What-If Analysis feature in Excel and explore different scenarios by changing input values and observing the resulting outputs.
  • Implementing data validation techniques to maintain data accuracy.
  • The benefits of using tables and the built-in Analyze Data feature in Excel, which provides insights and recommendations based on your data.
  • Introducing the Analysis ToolPak add-in, which offers a wide range of statistical functions and tools, including descriptive analysis and ANOVA (Analysis of Variance).

Let’s use the following dataset as a demonstration of analyzing data in Excel.

Overview of Analyze Data in Excel

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How to Analyze Data in Excel

Method 1 – Use Excel Functions to Analyze Data

Case 1.1 – The VLOOKUP Function

The VLOOKUP function is a frequently used function for looking up any particular data from a dataset. In the following example, we want to know how many goals an individual (for instance, Alex) has scored.

  • The formula in cell F5 is

Use of VLOOKUP function

Here, Excel is looking for the value in cell E5 within the range B5:C14 and retrieving the corresponding value from the second column of that range.

Case 1.2 – INDEX and MATCH Functions

  • The formula in this case is:

Use of INDEX-MATCH function

Formula Breakdown

MATCH(E5, B5:B14, 0) → The MATCH function searches for the value in cell E5 within the range B5:B14. The 0 as the third argument indicates an exact match.
Output: 1

INDEX(B5:C14, MATCH(E5, B5:B14, 0), 2) → This becomes,
INDEX(B5:C14, 1, 2) → This portion retrieves the value that is in 1st row and 2nd column of the range B5:C14.
Output: 17

Case 1.3 – The SUMIFS Function

The SUMIFS function gets the sum of a range of cells with a set of conditions.

  • If you want to get the goals scored by the players from Group A and Group B separately, the formula you can use in cell G5 is:

Use of SUMIFS function

The formula sums the values in the range $D$5:$D$14 but only includes values where the corresponding cells in the range $C$5:$C$14 match the value in cell F5.

Case 1.4 – The CONCAT Function

Let’s join the first and last names of certain individuals here using the CONCAT function in Excel.

  • The formula in cell D5 is:
=CONCAT(B5," ",C5)

Use of CONCAT function

The formula joins the values in cells B5 and C5, with a space between them, resulting in a single combined text string.

Case 1.5 – The LEN Function

You can count the number of characters of a cell or an array using the LEN function.

The formula in cell E5 is:


Use of LEN function

Method 2 – Data Analysis Using Excel Charts

  • Select the range F4:G6.
  • Go to the Insert tab and select any column chart.

Inserting chart

  • Excel will create a column chart for you.

Column chart created

Method 3 – Apply Conditional Formatting to Analyze Data

  • Select the dataset in the range C5:C14.
  • Go to the Home tab and choose Conditional Formatting, then select a set of Data Bars.

Adding Data Bars

  • Excel will add data bars.

Data bars with data

Method 4 – A Pivot Table

Let’s calculate the number of goals scored by Group 1 and Group 2 players using the Pivot Table.

  • Select the dataset in range B4:B14.  
  • Go to the Insert tab and select PivotTable.

Creating Pivot table

  • A box will appear. We have chosen a New Worksheet as the destination of the Pivot Table.

Setting input and output

  • Drag the fields in the areas (Group in Rows and Goal in Values) shown in the image.

Analysis using pivot table

  • Excel calculates the sum of goals.

Method 5 – Sorting Data in Excel

Suppose you want to sort the dataset in a descending order (Largest to Smallest).

  • Select the range C5:C14.
  • Go to the Data tab and select the Sort Z to A icon for descending order.

Data sorting

  • Select Expand the selection option from the warning window.

Expanding selection

  • Your data will be sorted.

Sorted Data

Method 6 – Filtering Data in Excel

Suppose you want to see the performance of the players of Group A.

  • Select range B4:D14. 
  • Go to the Data tab and activate the Filter option.

Activating Filter option

  • Filter your dataset from the drop-down icon in the column heading. We have selected Group A in the Group column.

Selecting a specific set of data

  • Excel will get the list of all Group A players and their performance.

Filtered data

Method 7 – Excel What-If Analysis Feature

What-If Analysis in Excel refers to a set of tools and techniques that allow you to explore different scenarios and observe the potential impact on the results of your formulas or models. Excel provides several features for performing what-if analysis, including:

  • Data Tables: Data Tables allow you to create a table displaying multiple results based on input values. You can perform either one-variable or two-variable data tables to see how changing inputs affect the final results.
  • Goal Seek: Goal Seek helps you determine the input value needed to achieve a specific result. You specify a target value, and Excel automatically adjusts the input value until it reaches the desired outcome.
  • Scenario Manager: Scenario Manager enables you to create and compare different sets of input values for your model. You can define multiple scenarios with varying inputs and switch between them to see the impact on the calculated results.

We will show an example of the Goal Seek feature. Suppose you have 100 units of a product to be sold. You want to see the necessary unit price if you want to get a revenue of $200.

The formula in C6 is:


This is very simple as we all know that the unit price will have to be $2. However, the fun with this Goal Seek feature is that you do not have to manually put the unit price. Rather, Excel will find it for you.

  • Go to the Data tab and select What-If Analysis, then select Goal Seek.

Accessing Goal seek feature

  • You want the revenue (To value) to be $200 and get the unit price in cell C5. So, the Set cell is C6 and the cell for By changing cell is C5. Put those values in the dialog box and click OK.

Putting inputs in Goal Seek window

  • Excel will put the unit price in C5. Put the Revenue in the currency format if you want.
  • Modify the Units Sold value and repeat the process to see how it affects the result.

Result of goal seek operation

Read More: How to Perform Case Study Using Excel Data Analysis

Method 8 – Data Validation

Let’s get back to our previous example (from the VLOOKUP section). We want to select a player’s name from all the available options rather than manually typing their names.

  • Select cell E5.
  • Go to the Data tab and select the Data Validation option.

Applying data validation

  • A Data Validation box will pop up. Choose List in the Allow field.
  • Set the source to =$B$5:$B$14.
  • Click OK.

Set parameters

  • You can now select the names from the drop-down icon.

Selecting data from drop-down

  • Once you select a name, you will get the number of goals the player scored.

Data Validation functioning

Method 9 – Excel Table

  • Select the dataset in range D5:D14.
  • Press CTRL + T.
  • Click OK.

Creating Excel table

  • Excel will create a table.

Excel table formed

Let’s see how you can get the total goals scored by these players without using any Excel Function.

  • Click on any cell of the table.
  • Go to the Table Design tab (this tab will be seen only if you select a cell of the table first).
  • Select Table Style Options and check the Total Row box.

Application of Excel tables

  • Excel shows the total goals scored.

Read More: How to Analyse Qualitative Data from a Questionnaire in Excel

Method 10 – The Analyze Data Feature

  • Add this feature to your ribbon. Put the cursor on the Home ribbon and right-click, then select Customize the Ribbon.

Customizing the ribbon

  • Select New Group and set its position on the Home ribbon.
  • Select All Commands and add Analyze Data to this newly created group.
  • Click OK.

Adding Analyze Data feature

  • Go to the Home tab and select Analyze Data.

Excel-recommended options in Analyzing Data feature

  • Excel will recommend several options for data analysis.

Method 11 – Using the Analysis ToolPak Add-in

  • Go to the File tab and select Options. The Excel Options box will open.
  • Go to Add-ins and select Excel Add-ins in the Manage field, then click Go.

Activating Analysis ToolPak

  • Check the box for Analysis ToolPak and click OK.

Checking Analysis ToolPak

  • Let’s do some analysis using this add-in.

Read More: How to Convert Qualitative Data to Quantitative Data in Excel

Descriptive Analysis with the ToolPak

  • Select range C5:C14.
  • Go to the Data tab and select Data Analysis (This will be available once you activate the Analysis ToolPak add-in).

Performing descriptive analysis

  • A Data Analysis box will pop up. Select the Descriptive Statistics option and click OK.

Selecting descriptive statistics

  • Set the input range and the output range and click OK. Check Summary statistics.

Setting inputs

  • You will get the descriptive statistics of the selected input range in your Excel workbook.

Sample analysis

Read More: How to Make Histogram Using Analysis ToolPak

ANOVA Analysis in Excel with ToolPak

ANOVA stands for Analysis of Variance. It is a statistical method used to compare the means of two or more groups to determine if there are any significant differences between them.

  • Go to the Data tab and select Data Analysis.
  • Select ANOVA from the Data Analysis box and click on OK.

Selecting ANOVA single factor

  • Set the input and output ranges.

Setting inputs in ANOVA

  • Excel will perform the analysis for you.

Data analysis with ANOVA Single factor

Read More: How to Analyze Data in Excel Using Pivot Tables

Things to Remember

  • Data Validation ensures accuracy.
  • The INDEX-MATCH function is better than the VLOOKUP function.
  • You need to refresh the Pivot Table when you change your dataset.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What are the advantages of using the Analyze Data feature in Excel over manual analysis techniques?

Advantages of using the Analyze Data feature in Excel over manual analysis techniques include saving time by automating tasks, an easy-to-use interface, lots of helpful tools and functions, the ability to customize, and working well with other Excel features.

2. What is the difference between descriptive and inferential statistics?

Descriptive statistics help describe data by summarizing it while inferential statistics help make predictions about a larger group based on a smaller sample.

3. What are the uses of ANOVA?

ANOVA is used to compare the averages of different groups, see how categorical variables affect outcomes, analyze experiments, and understand different sources of variation in data.

Analyze Data in Excel: Knowledge Hub

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Akib Bin Rashid
Akib Bin Rashid

AKIB BIN RASHID, a materials and metallurgical engineer, is passionate about delving into Excel and VBA programming. To him, programming is a valuable time-saving tool for managing data, files, and internet-related tasks. Proficient in MS Office, AutoCAD, Excel, and VBA, he goes beyond the fundamentals. Holding a B.Sc in Materials and Metallurgical Engineering from Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, MD AKIB has transitioned into a content development role. Specializing in creating technical content centred around Excel and... Read Full Bio

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