How to Create a Histogram in Excel Using the Data Analysis Tool

Updated on January 14, 2020
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Joshua has work experience in manufacturing, distribution, and aerospace. He received his BBA in accounting from Kent State University.

A Histogram

The illustration here is a histogram with a normal distribution. It was the famous statistician Karl Pearson who coined the term ‘histogram.’  Early on, the term was used to refer to a common graphical representation in lectures on statistics.
The illustration here is a histogram with a normal distribution. It was the famous statistician Karl Pearson who coined the term ‘histogram.’ Early on, the term was used to refer to a common graphical representation in lectures on statistics.

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.

Source Data

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.

Example Data

To use the Data Analysis Toolpak, you must determine your bin range and line that range up in ascending order in Excel. This will setup the bin data so it can be selected when it comes time to input data into the Data Analysis ToolPak.
To use the Data Analysis Toolpak, you must determine your bin range and line that range up in ascending order in Excel. This will setup the bin data so it can be selected when it comes time to input data into the Data Analysis ToolPak.

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

The Data Analysis Toolpak can be found in the analysis section under the data tab.
The Data Analysis Toolpak can be found in the analysis section under the data tab.

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

The Data Analysis Toolpak contains a variety of different tools to select from to aid in statistical analysis.
The Data Analysis Toolpak contains a variety of different tools to select from to aid in statistical analysis.

Input Data

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.

6. Select the OK button to run the data analysis tool


Histogram Parameters

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:

  1. Count the data points that you are using.
  2. The bins can then be calculated by taking the square root of the number of data points. Always round up with this number.
  3. 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 only choose the chart option for a histogram, a frequency distribution table will print with the corresponding histogram. Be sure to at least click the chart option for output or you will only get a frequency distribution table.
If you only choose the chart option for a histogram, a frequency distribution table will print with the corresponding histogram. Be sure to at least click the chart option for output or you will only get a frequency distribution table.

Histogram Results

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

Histogram Output

Each option for what type of content to print (Pareto, cumulative percentage and chart output) was selected in this example and the results are displayed above.
Each option for what type of content to print (Pareto, cumulative percentage and chart output) was selected in this example and the results are displayed above.

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

References

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.

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    © 2019 Joshua Crowder

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