Analyze Data in Excel

IMPORTANT: Ideas in Excel is now Analyze Data

To better represent how Ideas makes data analysis simpler, faster and more intuitive, the feature has been renamed to Analyze Data. The experience and functionality is the same and still aligns to the same privacy and licensing regulations. If you're on Semi-Annual Enterprise Channel, you may still see "Ideas" until Excel has been updated.

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Analyze Data in Excel empowers you to understand your data through natural language queries that allow you to ask questions about your data without having to write complicated formulas. In addition, Analyze Data provides high-level visual summaries, trends, and patterns.

Have a question? We can answer it!

Simply select a cell in a data range > select the Analyze Data button on the Home tab. Analyze Data in Excel will analyze your data, and return interesting visuals about it in a task pane.

If you're interested in more specific information, you can enter a question in the query box at the top of the pane, and press Enter. Analyze Data will provide answers with visuals such as tables, charts or PivotTables that can then be inserted into the workbook. 

Animated image of using natural language processing in Excel's Ideas service.

If you are interested in exploring your data, or just want to know what is possible, Analyze Data also provides personalized suggested questions which you can access by selecting on the query box. 

Try Suggested Questions

Just ask your question

Select the text box at the top of the Analyze Data pane, and you'll see a list of suggestions based on your data.

Analyze Data in Excel will give you suggested questions based on an analysis of your data.

You can also enter a specific question about your data.

Analyze Data in Excel answering a question about how many Locks or Helmets were sold.

Notes: 

Get specific with Analyze Data

If you do not have a question in mind, in addition to Natural Language, Analyze Data analyzes and provides high-level visual summaries, trends, and patterns.

You can save time and get a more focused analysis by selecting only the fields you want to see. When you choose fields and how to summarize them, Analyze Data excludes other available data - speeding up the process and presenting fewer, more targeted suggestions. For example, you might only want to see the sum of sales by year. Or you could ask Analyze Data to display average sales by year. 

Select Which fields interest you the most?

Analyze Data pane with the link to specify what fields to use.

Select the fields and how to summarize their data.

Select which fields you want to include and update to get new recommendations.

Analyze Data offers fewer, more targeted suggestions.

Analyze Data pane showing customized suggestions.

Note: The Not a value option in the field list refers to fields that are not normally summed or averaged. For example, you wouldn't sum the years displayed, but you might sum the values of the years displayed. If used with another field that is summed or averaged, Not a value works like a row label, but if used by itself, Not a value counts unique values of the selected field.

Analyze Data works best with clean, tabular data.

Sample Excel Table

Here are some tips for getting the most out of Analyze Data:

  1. Analyze Data works best with data that's formatted as an Excel table. To create an Excel table, click anywhere in your data and then press Ctrl+T.

  2. Make sure you have good headers for the columns. Headers should be a single row of unique, non-blank labels for each column. Avoid double rows of headers, merged cells, etc.

  3. If you have complicated, or nested data, you can use Power Query to convert tables with cross-tabs, or multiple rows of headers.

Didn't get Analyze Data? It's probably us, not you.

Here are some reasons why Analyze Data may not work on your data:

  • Analyze Data doesn't currently support analyzing datasets over 1.5 million cells. There is currently no workaround for this. In the meantime, you can filter your data, then copy it to another location to run Analyze Data on it.

  • String dates like "2017-01-01" will be analyzed as if they are text strings. As a workaround, create a new column that uses the DATE or DATEVALUE functions, and format it as a date.

  • Analyze Data won't work when Excel is in compatibility mode (i.e. when the file is in .xls format). In the meantime, save your file as an .xlsx, .xlsm, or xslb file.

  • Merged cells can also be hard to understand. If you're trying to center data, like a report header, then as a workaround, remove all merged cells, then format the cells using Center Across Selection. Press Ctrl+1, then go to Alignment > Horizontal > Center Across Selection.

Analyze Data works best with clean, tabular data.

Sample Excel Table

Here are some tips for getting the most out of Analyze Data:

  1. Analyze Data works best with data that's formatted as an Excel table. To create an Excel table, click anywhere in your data and then press COMMAND +T.

  2. Make sure you have good headers for the columns. Headers should be a single row of unique, non-blank labels for each column. Avoid double rows of headers, merged cells, etc.

Didn't get Analyze Data? It's probably us, not you.

Here are some reasons why Analyze Data may not work on your data:

  • Analyze Data doesn't currently support analyzing datasets over 1.5 million cells. There is currently no workaround for this. In the meantime, you can filter your data, then copy it to another location to run Analyze Data on it.

  • String dates like "2017-01-01" will be analyzed as if they are text strings. As a workaround, create a new column that uses the DATE or DATEVALUE functions, and format it as a date.

  • Analyze Data can't analyze data when Excel is in compatibility mode (i.e. when the file is in .xls format). In the meantime, save your file as an .xlsx, .xlsm, or xslb file.

  • Merged cells can also be hard to understand. If you're trying to center data, like a report header, then as a workaround, remove all merged cells, then format the cells using Center Across Selection. Press Ctrl+1, then go to Alignment > Horizontal > Center Across Selection.

Analyze Data works best with clean, tabular data.

Sample Excel Table

Here are some tips for getting the most out of Analyze Data:

  1. Analyze Data works best with data that's formatted as an Excel table. To create an Excel table, click anywhere in your data and then click Home > Tables > Format as Table.

  2. Make sure you have good headers for the columns. Headers should be a single row of unique, non-blank labels for each column. Avoid double rows of headers, merged cells, etc.

Didn't get Analyze Data? It's probably us, not you.

Here are some reasons why Analyze Data may not work on your data:

  • Analyze Data doesn't currently support analyzing datasets over 1.5 million cells. There is currently no workaround for this. In the meantime, you can filter your data, then copy it to another location to run Analyze Data on it.

  • String dates like "2017-01-01" will be analyzed as if they are text strings. As a workaround, create a new column that uses the DATE or DATEVALUE functions, and format it as a date.

We're always improving Analyze Data

Even if you don't have any of the above conditions, we may not find a recommendation. That's because we are looking for a specific set of insight classes, and the service doesn't always find something. We are continually working to expand the analysis types that the service supports.

Here is the current list that is available:

  • Rank: Ranks and highlights the item that is significantly larger than the rest of the items.

Line chart showing Payroll with noticeably higher Spend

  • Trend: Highlights when there is a steady trend pattern over a time series of data.

Line chart showing Spend increasing over time

  • Outlier: Highlights outliers in time series.

Scatter chart showing outliers

  • Majority: Finds cases where a majority of a total value can be attributed to a single factor.

Donut chart showing People accounting for the majority of Spend

If you don't get any results, please send us feedback by going to File > Feedback.

Because Analyze Data analyzes your data with artificial intelligence services, you might be concerned about your data security. You can read the Microsoft privacy statement for more details.

Analyze Data uses material from third-parties. If you'd like to read the details, see Licensing information for Analyze Data.

Need more help?

You can always ask an expert in the Excel Tech Community, get support in the Answers community, or suggest a new feature or improvement on Excel User Voice.

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