Joshua is a graduate student at the USF. He has interests in business technology, analytics, finance, and lean six sigma.
Histograms display the shape of a frequency distribution of a continuous data set. A histogram visually helps with the analysis for a variety of applications. A histogram differs from a bar chart because a bar chart relates to two variables (X and Y), while a histogram is only concerned with one variable. To be able to create a histogram, you need to have a data set, along with an idea of how you are going to bin those values.
To continue with this tutorial, please make sure that you have the Data Analysis ToolPak enabled in Microsoft Excel. If this tool is not enabled in your version of Excel, you can learn how to activate it here.
As stated above, there are two sources of data that are needed to create a histogram when using the Data Analysis ToolPak. You need a data set and data detailing your bin configuration. The bins should be configured to evenly distribute the data. Both the data and bins need to be aligned in a column.
Data Analysis ToolPak
Now the Data Analysis ToolPak can be opened to create the histogram. Click on the data tab followed by clicking on the data analysis button in the analysis section of the ribbon.
Open the Data Analysis Tool
Choose Your Tool
After the data analysis window appears, the histogram option needs to be clicked on. Next, click on the OK button.
Data Analysis Window
There are several steps to inputting data into the analysis tool highlighted below:
1. Input Range- All the data for the histogram needs to be entered. The input range is the range of the data set.
2. Bin Range- These essentially determine the what goes into each bar. These bins should be carefully selected. The input the bins select the range of them and make sure that range is in ascending order.
3. Labels- This box should only be checked if the header of data set and bin data are selected with the data ranges.
4. Where to Print Options- These options determine where the histogram prints. The output can be can printed in the current worksheet by selecting a range, it can be printed in a new worksheet by naming a new worksheet or it can be printed in a new workbook.
5. What to Print Output Options- These options determine what data is seen data. You may consider these options if you need to view the data in a specific way.
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6. Select the OK button to run the data analysis tool
Finding Bin Width and Interval
Bin width should be considered carefully. There are several rules of thumb to use when creating your bins for a histogram. One good one to go by is Juran's guidelines. To follow these guidelines the following steps need to be taken:
- Count the data points that you are using.
- The bins can then be calculated by taking the square root of the number of data points. Always round up with this number.
- The bin width can determined by dividing the range (Max-Min) by the number of bins.
Results for Chart Output
If the chart is the only selection that is to the printed, a chart and the corresponding histogram will be printed. This can be seen below.
Chart Output Only
If you decide that you want output with more details and a Pareto chart, select all three options. The results will be a frequency distribution table that includes:
- A complete frequency distribution table
- A Pareto chart
- Cumulative markers on the graph
To learn more about creating histograms and other types of graphs I recommend using the Excel Bible to enrich your excel knowledge base.
The Excel 2019 Bible
Ioannidis, Y. (n.d.). The History of Histograms (abridged). Retrieved December 19, 2018, from http://www.vldb.org/conf/2003/papers/S02P01.pdf
Microsoft. (n.d.). Formulas to count the occurrences of text, characters, and words in Excel - Office. Retrieved December 28, 2019, from https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/office/troubleshoot/excel/formulas-to-count-occurrences-in-excel.
QI Macros. (n.d.). How to Determine Histogram Bin Width and Bin Intervals. Retrieved December 30, 2019, from https://www.qimacros.com/histogram-excel/how-to-determine-histogram-bin-interval/.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2019 Joshua Crowder