Excel for Journalists by Steve Doig


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Pam Luecke presents "Assignments that Build Skills" during the annual 2012 Reynolds Business Journalism Seminars, hosted by the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism.

For more information about free training for business journalists, please visit businessjournalism.org.

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Excel for Journalists by Steve Doig

  1. 1. Steve Doig Arizona State University USA Excel for Journalists
  2. 2. What is “data”? <ul><li>Information in table form </li></ul><ul><li>Columns are the variables </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Name, date, time, address, age, etc. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Rows are the records </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Persons, incidents, etc. </li></ul></ul>
  3. 3. Information, but not data <ul><li>Steve Doig is a 63-year-old professor who teaches at Arizona State University. </li></ul>
  4. 4. Now it’s data! Last name First name Age Title City Doig Steve 63 Professor Phoenix Jones Bob 45 Reporter Miami Smith Tom 34 Reporter New York
  5. 5. Why use Excel? <ul><li>Good stories can be found in the patterns of data </li></ul><ul><li>Human mind alone can’t see the patterns in large sets of data </li></ul><ul><li>Excel has tools to help us see the patterns in data in table form </li></ul><ul><li>Excel can handle large tables </li></ul><ul><ul><li>More than 16.000 columns </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>More than 1 million rows </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. A blank spreadsheet
  7. 7. What Excel can do <ul><li>Import data from many formats </li></ul><ul><li>Sort data by one or more variables </li></ul><ul><li>Filter data to show only selected rows </li></ul><ul><li>Transform data using functions and formulas </li></ul><ul><li>Summarize data into categories </li></ul>
  8. 8. Importing data <ul><li>Common formats </li></ul><ul><ul><li>*.xls (or *.xlsx) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Fixed-width text </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Delimited text (comma, tab, etc) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>HTML tables </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Data Import Wizard will help </li></ul>
  9. 9. Delimited text example
  10. 10. Fixed-width text
  11. 11. Sorting a table
  12. 12. Now it’s sorted
  13. 13. Filtering: Data…Filter…Autofilter
  14. 14. Pick a category…
  15. 15. … and see just that
  16. 16. Transforming data <ul><li>Math/stats functions </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Add, subtract, multiply, divide </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Average, median, maximum, minimum </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Rank, z-scores </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Date/Time functions </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Day of week, days between </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Text functions </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Extract parts of text strings </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Combine strings </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Search and replace text </li></ul></ul>
  17. 17. Function Wizard ( ƒx)
  18. 18. Function Wizard ( ƒx)
  19. 19. Summarizing data <ul><li>We often want to take a big collection of individual records and pile them into categories </li></ul><ul><li>Trick: Visualize the piece of paper that would give you the answer you seek </li></ul><ul><li>Tool: Pivot tables </li></ul>
  20. 20. Pivot table example <ul><li>Data: Region, town name, crimes, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Question: “How many crimes occurred in each region?” </li></ul><ul><li>Visualize the piece of paper that would answer the question </li></ul>
  21. 21. Building a pivot table
  22. 22. Pivot table
  23. 23. Sorted pivot table
  24. 24. Questions?