Can I automate the functions found in the ‘analysis ToolPak’ in Microsoft Excel?

22 09 2016


Someone asked this question in Quora and here is my answer which I think many of you will find useful:

If you use Excel on a Mac the chances are that you are not running Excel 2016 for the Mac and that your Mac does not have the ToolPak at all … I know, older versions have it and I know you can get alternatives!

In that case, I often demonstrate to Mac users how to create and automate the functions in the ToolPak: correlation matrix, regression analysis, moving averages, descriptive statistics … the others as well!

Descriptive statistics, for example, could be, for data in column A:

=AVERAGE(A:A)

=STDEV(A:A)

=KURT(A:A) …

=SKEW(A:A)

and so on.

Other answers have mentioned statistics software packages and that’s fine except they might not be free! Yes, if you are a student, your college or university is likely to have statistics software free for you to use.

How about R and R Studio, however? Open source, free, with massive amounts of support? Of course, it takes time to learn R but here is the code for some descriptive statistics using the psych package in R:

describe(order_sales_profit$Sales)

That’s it! This is what I get from my current data set, sales values: not exactly the same as the ToolPak but my point is, it is very easy to replicate. Look at the screenshot of the output from R.

main-qimg-897d5be6ae0d3e466b4ee0095f16d1ab-c?convert_to_webp=true

By the way, as a novice or beginner level user of Excel, there is a lot to learn from manually automating what’s in the ToolPak. Moreover, if you take my next learning point, use this opportunity to set up templates for you to analyse your data sets: that means, you automate the ToolPak elements once and that is it!

Finally, many elements of the ToolPak return non volatile results which means that if you change your data, you have to run the ToolPak again. If you automate it yourself, the formulas you create will all be volatile: change the data, change the answers!

Duncan Williamson

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