Care when using Statistical Functions in Excel (Part 1)

Excel is a powerful tool for analysing data, and as part of that has a wide range of statistical functions.

However these must be used with care: the fact that Excel allows you to do something doesn’t mean it is statistically valid (which may appear to make sense). It may even be obvious nonsense.

For example if you’ve entered telephone numbers as numbers (not a good idea anyway, because you’ll lose the leading zero, making the number even more difficult to read) Excel can calculate the average number you’ve called to 4 decimal places!

Note that AVERAGE in Excel is the mean. Of the other two kinds of arithmetic average, MODE and MEDIAN, MODE could produce a valid result because it would show which numbers you have called most. While MEDIAN would merely return the middle value.

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