Excel features many keyboard shortcuts that will help you save time while navigating spreadsheets. These include:
Much like the tabs of this guide, your options in accessing the features of Excel are arranged in tabs along the top ribbon. Choose the data tab and look at the section all the way on the right to see if you have the Data Analysis Toolpak installed.
If you don't see the Data Analysis link, go to the File tab, choose Options (the last choice in the left-hand margin), then choose Add-ins (the second-to-last choice in the left hand margin). Among the Add-ins you should see one called Analysis Toolpak or Analysis Toolpak VBA. Choose the latter if you use Visual Basic; otherwise, choose Analysis Toolpak.
Summary statistics as generated by Excel are useful for a quick preliminary analysis. In addition they can be used to check for errant data values.
Your statistics will open in a new worksheet by default. You have the option of having them populate to a new workbook.
A mean or median that is far different than expected could indicate errors in data entry in the selected column.
If you'd like to get a sense of the distribution of your data with a simple histogram, you can do so through the Data Analysis Toolpak. To begin, choose a column of numeric data that you'd like to graph, and create bins in regular increments that cover the span of the data. In the example, I worked with a dataset that listed patient weights in kg, with no measurement exceeding 100. I created a column with ten bins, each in an increment of ten and ending up in '100.'
On the top ribbon, go to Data Tab, then Data Analysis, then Histogram:
On the next screen, enter both the column range and the bin range, using a $ before each column letter and row number. This makes the formula work on the entire data range selected, including anything hidden. As an alternative to typing your ranges manually, you can place the cursor in the blank box for each range and then select the corresponding cells for the range on the worksheet. Be careful of unintended auto-fills.
Your resulting histogram should bring to light outliers in the data or surprises, which may be a sign of data-entry errors.