Statistics is a field of study that has two principal objectives:
- Describing data (Descriptive Statistics)
- Making inferences based on experimentally observed data (Inferential Statistics)
Descriptive Statistics involves calculating the mean, median, variance, standard deviation and other properties of the data, and presenting this information in ways that make the data more meaningful, such as histograms, boxplots, QQ plots, etc.
Inferential Statistics involves analyzing data and inferring characteristics of a general population based on the same properties of a sample taken from the population. This is what gives the field of statistics its power since with a relatively small amount of data you are able to make significant assertions, even though such inferences are not 100% certain, but probabilistic in nature.
This website provides a tutorial on statistics plus access to tools that let you calculate various statistical tests from within Excel, including the following:
- Tutorial on basic statistical tests and analyses
- Free access to supplemental Excel formulas and data analysis tools
- Step by step procedures for carrying out these tests and analyses using Excel
- Numerous examples
- Some of the theory behind these analyses (primarily in the Appendix)
There are a number of commonly used, powerful tools for carrying out statistical analyses. The most popular of these are SPSS, SAS and R. We have chosen instead to use Excel as our analysis tool, even though it offers far fewer built-in statistical tools. The reasons for choosing Excel are as follows:
- It is widely available and so many more people know how to use it
- It is not necessary to incur the cost of yet another tool
- It is not necessary to learn new methods of manipulating data and drawing graphs
- It already contains some basic statistics functions and data analysis tools
- It is much easier to see what is going on since unlike the more popular statistical analysis tools very little is hidden from the user
- It provides the user with a lot of control and flexibility
This makes Excel an ideal tool for learning statistical concepts, although often it is easier to use the standard statistical tools for carrying out more advanced statistical analyses. To address Excel’s shortcomings, therefore, we have created the Real Statistics Resource Pack which contains various supplemental tools that enable you to carry out a wide range of advanced statistical analyses without leaving the Excel environment. The Resource Pack can be downloaded for free by clicking on Download.
While everything in this website can be done with standard Excel, the tools in the Resource Pack make it easier to perform statistical analyses. The website focuses on Excel 2016, 2013, 2010 and 2007, although much of what is described will work fine with previous versions of Excel.
No advanced mathematics is necessary to use this website. In particular calculus is not required. For those readers who are familiar with calculus and are interested in the derivation of some of the statistical concepts described in the website, from time to time you will have the opportunity to click on a link to access more advanced information.
Knowledge of Excel is also not required. Excel Environment contains an introduction to Excel and Excel Capabilities provides more detailed information. There are also many books and online resources that provide a wealth of information about how to use Excel.
In the past few months we have added many new statistical capabilities. More new features are being all the time, so stayed tuned.