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Brush up on your Excel skills

Posted by on September 10th, 2013 Posted in: Data Visualization, Practical Evaluation


“There’s probably a better way of doing this.” How many times have you muttered this statement while using Excel to analyze a database download or a spreadsheet of class evaluation data?

Or maybe you would like to try your hand at some of the hot new trends in data visualization, such as data dashboards or infographics, but find that your lack of familiarity with Excel holds you back.

Whether you are a novice or experienced Excel user, you should check out Emery Evaluation’s “Excel for Evaluation” web page (http://emeryevaluation.com/excel/) with its series of videos demonstrating efficient ways to use Excel for data analysis and reporting. These videos, created by Ann Emery, are 1-4 minutes long and demonstrate a single Excel function, such as the formula to recode data or a technique for merging data from two separate files. The videos do use the 2010 version of Excel, so if you are working with an earlier version, some of the videos may not directly apply. Her videos are organized around the  steps of good data analysis: importing your data, organizing and cleaning the data, recoding, looking for patterns, calculating statistics, and creating charts.

I’ve been using Excel since 1988, and I STILL always feel as though I’m taking the long way around to completing an analysis. These videos confirmed that I was, indeed, right.  There are better ways to use Excel, and Emery’s videos show how.

Image of the author ABOUT Cindy Olney
Cindy Olney is the Assistant Director of the NNLM Evaluation Office. She leads NNLM's evaluation efforts, designs evaluation methods, and guides analysis and reporting of evaluation findings.

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This project is funded by the National Library of Medicine (NLM), National Institutes of Health (NIH) under cooperative agreement number UG4LM012343 with the University of Washington.

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