Exploring Excel Functions, Part 9: Analyzing Frequency Distributions
- Aug 4, 2006
When you have a set of data (weight loss of people who have followed a diet, for example, or number of defects in new autos sold each month), Excel provides a raft of statistical functions to help you describe the data. AVERAGE gives you the mean, MEDIAN gives you the median, and STDEV gives you the standard deviation—just to name a few.
But sometimes these figures aren’t enough. You need something else to get the meaning you want out of the data. Sometimes what you need is a frequency distribution. This kind of analysis counts the number of data points that fall into specified ranges, or bins. If we continue with the weight loss example, you might count the number of people who lost 15–20 pounds, the number who lost 10–15 pounds, the number who lost 5–10 pounds, and so on. The resulting counts are typically displayed as a column chart that provides a quick visual summary of the data. Excel’s FREQUENCY function performs this task for you.