Chapter 2

Using Excel in Forensic Investigations

This chapter reviews the features of Excel 2007 (Excel) that make it an especially useful tool for forensic analytics. Excel is a software program that allows us to populate a rectangular grid called a worksheet with numbers, text, and images. Excel 2007 uses the new ribbon interface. Excel can perform many tasks and most users probably use less than 20 percent of the program's functionality. Even a forensic analytics project only requires some small part of all the capabilities of the program. Some of the main tasks that will be done with Excel in a forensic analytics environment are:

  • Importing and accessing data from sources such as Access databases and government and corporate websites.
  • Storing data in an easily retrievable format.
  • Performing calculations related to the forensic analytic tests described in the later chapters.
  • Grouping data and calculating statistics (such as sums or counts) on a per-group basis.
  • Creating graphs that give insights into forensic matters.
  • Interfacing seamlessly with Word and PowerPoint.

This chapter reviews some features that are useful in a forensic analytics context. These features include data import, worksheet formatting, protecting the worksheet's contents, and using Excel results in a Word document or a PowerPoint presentation. The formulas and techniques used to run the tests are described (with screenshots) in Chapters 4 through 17. The next section describes some pitfalls in using Excel. ...

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