Chapter 16: Importing and Cleaning Data

In This Chapter

• Ways to import data into Excel

• Many techniques to manipulate and clean data

• Using the new Fill Flash feature

• A checklist for data cleaning

• Exporting data to other formats

One very common use for Excel is as a tool to “clean up” data. Cleaning up data involves getting raw data into a worksheet, and then manipulating it so it conforms to various requirements. In the process, the data will be made consistent so that it can be properly analyzed.

This chapter describes various ways to get data into a worksheet and also provides some tips to help you clean it up.

A Few Words about Data

Data is everywhere. For example, if you run a website, you're collecting data continually, and you may not even know it. Every visit to your site generates information stored in a file on your server. This file contains lots of useful information — if you take the time to examine it.

That's just one example of data collection. Virtually every automated system collects data and stores it. Most of the time, the system that collects the data is also equipped to verify and analyze the data. Not always, though. And, of course, data is also collected manually: for example, a telephone survey.

Excel is good tool for analyzing data, and it's often used to summarize the information and display it in the form of tables and charts. But often, the data that's collected isn't perfect. For one reason or another, it needs to be cleaned up before it can ...

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