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

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2.1 Frequency tables

Before learning how to make frequency tables and histograms in Excel, you first need to know what a frequency distribution is, and why we need histograms.

The frequency of a value is the number of times that value appears in a data set. A frequency distribution table displays the pattern of frequencies of a variable in a tabular form. It gives the information of how many times each value of a variable occurs in a data set. A frequency distribution table is an effective way to summarise and organise the collected raw data so that all its features are summarised in a table form. The first step that a researcher or analyst must do with collected raw data is to organise and present the data in such a way that makes it meaningful and easy to digest.

Frequency distribution tables are also called frequency tables, and in practice both terms are used interchangeably. In short, a frequency table gives you a snapshot of how your data is distributed and spread out.

A frequency distribution table has two columns: Column A and Column B. Column A presents the outcome of the values and Column B presents the frequency of the outcomes. You can understand this better with the example below.

Anna is an analyst, and she works Monday and Tuesday in a hospital. On Wednesday and Thursday, she works in a small accounting firm. On Friday, Saturday and Sunday she works in a bank.

Now you can display this data through a frequency distribution table, as shown in Figure 7.

Table displaying the data in the frequency distribution table
Figure 7 Displaying the data in the frequency distribution table

This table gives you a clear idea of how many days Anna works in each different organisation.

In the next section, you will learn about various types of frequency distribution table.