When hearing of folks running statistical analysis with Excel , statisticians often have panicky images of ‘Home Haircutting , with Electric Shears, in the Wet’!
Mind you, Excel really is great for processing data, but analysing it in a more formal or even exploratory sense, can be a trifle tricky.
On the upside, many work computers have Excel installed, it’s readily available for quite a low price even if one is not a student or an academic, and for the most part is well designed and simple to use. It’s very easy to develop a spreadsheet that shows each individual calculation needed for a particular formula such as the standard deviation, for instance. Such flexibility is wonderful for learning and teaching stats, because everyone can see the steps involved in actually getting an answer, more so than the usual press-button, window click, typing ‘esoteric’ commands.
On the downside, pre-2010 versions of Excel had both practical accuracy issues (with functions & the add-in statistics toolpak) and validity issues (employed non-usual methods for things like handling ties in ranked data). There’s still no nonparametric tests (e.g. Wilcoxon), and Excel is still a bit light on for confidence intervals, regression diagnostics, and for performing production, shop-floor type statistical analyses. More of an adjustable wrench than a set of spanners?
In sum, if used wisely, Excel is a useful adjunct to third party statistical add-ins or statistical packages, but please avoid pie charts, especially 3D ones, and watch out for those banana skins….
**Excel 2010 (& Gnumeric & OpenOffice) Accuracy / Validity**
**Some Excel Statistics Books**
Conrad Carlberg http://www.quepublishing.com/store/statistical-analysis-microsoft-excel-2013-9780789753113
Mark Gardener http://www.pelagicpublishing.com/statistics-for-ecologists-using-r-and-excel-data-collection-exploration-analysis-and-presentation.html
Neil Salkind http://www.sagepub.com/books/Book236672?siteId=sage-us&prodTypes=any&q=salkind&fs=1
**Some Statistical Add-Ins for Excel**
Analyse-It http://analyse-it.com DataDesk /XL http://www.datadesk.com
RExcel (interfaces Excel to open source R) http://rcom.univie.ac.at/
**Some Open Source Spreadsheets**
Gnumeric https://projects.gnome.org/gnumeric/ OpenOffice http://www.openoffice.org.au/