Many texts are available to help graduate students and researchers design studies, understand statistical methods, and conduct analyses using standard software, but little exists that helps with the creation of data sets. Microsoft Excel has evolved into a remarkably sophisticated data entry and statistical analysis system, with an extensive toolkit that can make these processes efficient and accurate. This is a practical step-by-step guide to using Excel in the data preparation process. The book includes plentiful screenshots, text boxes summarizing important points, examples from across the social sciences, and questions at the end of each chapter. In addition, a sample dataset will be available online for students to download and use for all the examples and exercises throughout the text. This brief book is intended to familiarize students, teachers, and researchers with the Excel toolkit, and provide strategies that ease the task of data creation and analysis.

Software Options for Entering Data

Before talking about the different types of software you can use for entering data, it's important to understand a few things about the basic structure of data sets. Statistical data can be conceptualized as a matrix, a grid of rows and columns, in which each row usually represents a single case in the sample, and each column reflects a single variable. As mentioned before, cases are the entities that are observed in the study, whether people, members of other species, industrial products, websites, or whatever. Variables are the phenomena on which cases are observed and categorized or quantified.

There are different types of variables possible, the most common of which are numeric, text, and date-time variables. Some data entry systems ...

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