Excel for Journalists
Steve Doig
Arizona State University
USA
What is “data”?
—  Information in table form
—  Columns are the variables
—  Name, date, time, address, age, etc.

—  ...
Information, but not data
—  Steve Doig is a 63-year-old professor who teaches at Arizona

State University.
Now it’s data!
Last
name

First
name Age Title

Doig
Jones

Steve 63
Bob
45

Professor
Reporter

Phoenix
Miami

Smith

Tom...
Why use Excel?
—  Good stories can be found in the patterns of data
—  Human mind alone can’t see the patterns in large ...
A blank spreadsheet
What Excel can do
—  Import data from many formats
—  Sort data by one or more variables
—  Filter data to show only se...
Importing data
—  Common formats
—  *.xls (or *.xlsx)
—  Fixed-width text
—  Delimited text (comma, tab, etc)
—  HTML...
Delimited text example
Fixed-width text
Sorting a table
Now it’s sorted
Filtering: Data…Filter…Autofilter
Pick a category…
…and see just that
Transforming data
—  Math/stats functions
—  Add, subtract, multiply, divide
—  Average, median, maximum, minimum
—  R...
Function Wizard (ƒx)
Function Wizard (ƒx)
Summarizing data
—  We often want to take a big collection of individual records

and pile them into categories
—  Trick...
Pivot table example
—  Data: Region, town name, crimes, etc.
—  Question: “How many crimes occurred in each region?”
— ...
Building a pivot table
Pivot table
Sorted pivot table
Questions?
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Business Journalism Professors 2014: Excel for Journalists by Steve Doig

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Steve Doig presents "Excel for Journalists" during the Reynolds Center for Business Journalism's annual Business Journalism Week, Jan. 3, 2014. Doig is the Knight Chair in Journalism, specializing in computer-assisted reporting, at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications at Arizona State University.

The annual event features two concurrent seminars, Business Journalism Professors and Strictly Financials for journalists.

For more information about business journalism training, please visit http://businessjournalism.org.

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Business Journalism Professors 2014: Excel for Journalists by Steve Doig

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

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