How to perform descriptive analysis in Excel

In this article, we will learn How to perform descriptive analysis in Excel.


Descriptive statistics are one of the fundamental “must knows” with any set of data. It gives us a general idea of trends in the data like getting to know The mean, mode, median for the range or Variance and standard deviation, Skewness, Count, maximum and minimum.

Descriptive statistics is useful because it allows you to take a large amount of data and summarize it. For example, let’s say you had data on the incomes of one million people. No one is going to want to read a million pieces of data; if they did, they wouldn’t be able to glean any useful information from it. On the other hand, if you summarize it, it becomes useful: an average wage, or a median income, is much easier to understand than reams of data.

Descriptive statistics features

Statistic Description
Mean Shows the arithmetic mean of the sample data.
Standard Error Shows the standard error of the data set
Median Shows the middle value in the data set
Mode Shows the most common value in the data set.
Standard Deviation Shows the sample standard deviation measure for the dataset
Sample Variance Shows the sample variance for the data set 
Kurtosis Shows the kurtosis of the distribution.
Skewness Shows the skewness of the data set’s distribution.
Range Shows the difference between the largest and smallest values in the data set.
Minimum Shows the smallest value in the data set.
Maximum Shows the largest value in the data set.
Sum Adds all the values in the data set together to calculate the sum
Count Counts the number of values in a data set.
Largest(X) Shows the largest X value in the data set.
Smallest(X) Shows the smallest X value in the data set.
Confidence Level(X) Percentage Shows the confidence level at a given percentage for the dataset values.

How to Calculate Excel Descriptive Statistics: Steps

First step : Type your data into Excel, in a single column. For example, if you have ten items in your data set, type them into cells A1 through A10.
Second step : Click the “Data” tab and then click “Data Analysis” in the Analysis group.
Third step: Highlight “Descriptive Statistics” in the pop-up Data Analysis window.
Fourth step : Type an input range into the “Input Range” text box. For this example, type “A1:A10” into the box.
Fifth step : Check the “Labels in first row” check box if you have titled the column in row 1, otherwise leave the box unchecked.
Sixth Step: Type a cell location into the “Output Range” box. For example, type “C1.” Make sure that two adjacent columns do not have data in them.
Seventh Step: Click the “Summary Statistics” checkbox and then click “OK” to display Excel descriptive statistics. A list of descriptive statistics will be returned in the column you selected as the Output Range.

Example :

All of these might be confusing to understand. Let's understand how to use the function using an example. Here we will use Excel as the one for calculating descriptive statistics. To see how this works, take a look at this worksheet. It summarizes sales data for a book publisher.

In column A, the worksheet shows the suggested retail price (SRP). In column B, the worksheet shows the units sold of each book through one popular bookselling outlet. You might choose to use the Descriptive Statistics tool to summarize this data set.

To calculate descriptive statistics for the data set, follow these steps:

Click the Data tab > Data Analysis command button as shown above to tell Excel that you want to calculate descriptive statistics. Excel displays the Data Analysis dialog box.

In the Data Analysis dialog box, highlight the Descriptive Statistics entry in the Analysis Tools list and then click OK.
Excel displays the Descriptive Statistics dialog box.

In the Input section of the Descriptive Statistics dialog box, identify the data that you want to describe.

After describing where the data is and how the statistics should be calculated, click OK. Here are the statistics that Excel calculates.

Here is a new worksheet with the descriptive statistics calculated.

As you can see all the statistics like sum, count, maximum, minimum, mean, median, mode, standard deviation, variance with some other useful stats for the input range.

Using the descriptive statistics feature in Excel means that we won’t have to type in individual functions like median, mean or mode. One button click will return a dozen different stats for your data set. If you want to calculate Excel descriptive statistics, you must have the Data Analysis Toolpak loaded in Excel. Click the “Data” tab in Excel. If you don’t see “Data analysis” on the right of the toolbar, you need to load the Toolpak first. See: Load the Excel Data Analysis Toolpak.

Here are all the observational notes using the formula in Excel
Note :

If you calculate a confidence level for the sample mean, you need to enter the confidence level percentage into the text box provided. Use the Kth Largest and Kth Smallest check boxes to indicate you want to find the largest or smallest value in the data set.

Hope this article about How to perform descriptive analysis in Excel is explanatory. Find more articles on calculating values and related Excel formulas here. If you liked our blogs, share it with your friends on Facebook. And also you can follow us on Twitter and Facebook. We would love to hear from you, do let us know how we can improve, complement or innovate our work and make it better for you. Write to us at

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