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Data analysis: visualisations in Excel
Data analysis: visualisations in Excel

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1 Excel spreadsheets

Before making any decision for a business, it is usually a good idea to get a clear picture of the data, which can provide you with an overview of the relevant information. It is good practice, therefore, to organise and present data in such ways that make it useful for decision making and problem solving. Microsoft Excel is used widely for data analysis in a professional context. Researchers and analysts alike use this tool for various applications in the real world, such as in business, medicine, academia, tax and auditing, marketing, accounting and finance. Moreover, it is flexible enough to be used with many types of data, irrespective of whether it is qualitative or quantitative data.

In this course, you will make extensive use of Excel spreadsheets. In this section you will familiarise yourself with the basics of using Excel. This will enhance your analytical skills as well as your employability skills.

This section briefly explains the various features and functions of Excel that are used by researchers and data analysts to explore, organise and analyse data.

Excel for OU students

If you are currently studying with the OU as a fee-paying student, you have free access to Microsoft Office 365. This includes the spreadsheet software Excel. For this you need to go to the OU Computing Guide and scroll down to ‘Microsoft Office 365’. Click on the link. If you have not done so, then you should follow the instructions to sign up to get access for your free version of the software. If you have already installed Microsoft Excel on your laptop, then you may prefer to use your own version. Although earlier versions of Excel are not significantly different, the layout of some tabs and menus may vary slightly.