# Excel Tutorial: How To Calculate A Running Average In Excel

## Introduction

Calculating a running average in Excel is a useful tool for analyzing trends and patterns in data. A running average, also known as a moving average, is the average of a set of numbers over a specific period as it moves through the data set. This can help smooth out fluctuations and highlight long-term trends, making it easier to spot important changes in the data.

Whether you're tracking sales figures, stock prices, or any other type of data, being able to calculate a running average in Excel can provide valuable insights into the overall trajectory of your numbers. In this tutorial, we'll walk you through the steps to calculate a running average in Excel, so you can start leveraging this powerful analytical tool for your data analysis needs.

## Key Takeaways

• A running average, or moving average, is the average of a set of numbers over a specific period as it moves through the data set.
• Calculating a running average in Excel can help smooth out fluctuations and highlight long-term trends in data.
• Importing the data into Excel, sorting it chronologically, and creating a new column are important steps in understanding the data before calculating the running average.
• Adjusting the running average window and visualizing the running average through a line chart are essential for effective analysis.
• Dealing with missing or incomplete data and avoiding errors in the running average calculation are important considerations for accurate analysis.

## Understanding the data

When calculating a running average in Excel, it is important to have a clear understanding of the data and how it is structured. This involves importing the data into Excel, sorting it in chronological order, and creating a new column for the running average calculation.

• Importing the data into Excel

To begin, open Excel and import the data that you want to calculate the running average for. This can be done by copying and pasting the data directly into a new worksheet or by using the import data feature.

• Sorting the data in chronological order

Once the data is imported, it is important to ensure that it is sorted in chronological order. This can be done by sorting the date column in ascending order, ensuring that the data is organized properly for the running average calculation.

• Creating a new column for the running average calculation

Next, create a new column next to the data that you want to calculate the running average for. This will be the column where the running average calculations will be displayed, and it is important to set up this column correctly before proceeding with the calculation.

## Calculating the running average

When working with data in Excel, calculating a running average can provide valuable insights into trends and patterns. Here's how you can easily calculate a running average in Excel.

### A. Using the AVERAGE function in Excel

The AVERAGE function in Excel allows you to calculate the average of a range of cells. It takes the form =AVERAGE(range), where "range" is the range of cells for which you want to calculate the average.

### B. Applying the function to the new column

To calculate a running average, you'll first need to create a new column next to the data for which you want to calculate the running average. In this new column, you'll use the AVERAGE function to calculate the average of the data up to that point.

• Step 1: Select the cell in the new column where you want the running average to start.
• Step 2: Enter the AVERAGE function, using a relative cell reference for the range. For example, if your data is in column A and starts at A2, you can use =AVERAGE(\$A\$2:A2) to calculate the running average up to the current row.
• Step 3: Press Enter to calculate the running average for the selected cell.
• Step 4: Drag the fill handle down to apply the AVERAGE function to the rest of the column, calculating the running average for each row.

## Adjusting the running average window

When calculating a running average in Excel, it's important to understand the concept of a window. The window is the number of data points that are included in the average calculation at any given time. For example, a 5-day running average includes the data from the current day and the previous four days.

### Explaining the concept of a window in the context of a running average

In the context of a running average, the window represents the number of data points that are averaged together at any given time. This allows for a moving average that reflects the most recent data while smoothing out fluctuations.

### Demonstrating how to change the window size in Excel

To change the window size for a running average calculation in Excel, follow these steps:

• Select the cell where you want the running average to appear.
• Click on the "Formulas" tab at the top of the Excel window.
• Choose "Insert Function" and search for "AVERAGE."
• Select "AVERAGE" from the list of functions and click "OK."
• Input the range of cells for the data you want to include in the running average calculation.
• Modify the range to adjust the window size as needed.
• Press "Enter" to apply the running average calculation with the new window size.

## Visualizing the running average

When working with data in Excel, it can be helpful to visualize the running average to better understand trends and patterns. Creating a line chart with the running average and adding data labels can make it easier to interpret the data.

### A. Creating a line chart with the running average

To create a line chart with the running average in Excel, start by selecting the data range that includes the values for which you want to calculate the running average. Then, go to the "Insert" tab on the ribbon and select "Line Chart" from the Charts group. Choose the chart type that best fits your data and insert the chart into your worksheet.

Next, add the running average to the chart by selecting the chart, clicking on the "Chart Elements" button (the plus sign icon) that appears when you hover over the chart, and then selecting "Trendline" from the dropdown menu. In the Format Trendline pane that appears on the right, choose "Average" from the "Type" dropdown and adjust any other settings as needed.

### B. Adding data labels to the chart

Once you have created the line chart with the running average, adding data labels can help to make the chart more informative. To add data labels to the chart, click on the chart and then go to the "Chart Elements" button. Select "Data Labels" from the dropdown menu, and the data labels will appear on the chart.

If you want to format the data labels, you can right-click on them and choose "Format Data Labels" from the context menu. In the Format Data Labels pane, you can adjust the label options such as position, number format, and font style to make the chart easier to read.

## Potential pitfalls and troubleshooting

When calculating a running average in Excel, there are certain potential pitfalls and errors that you may encounter. It’s important to be aware of these and know how to troubleshoot them.

A. Dealing with missing or incomplete data
• ### Identifying missing data

One potential issue when calculating a running average is dealing with missing or incomplete data. It’s crucial to identify any missing data points in your dataset before calculating the running average to ensure accuracy.

• ### Dealing with missing data

If you encounter missing data, you have a few options for handling it. You can choose to fill in the missing data with a placeholder value, such as zero, or you may decide to exclude the missing data from the calculation altogether. Be sure to consider the implications of each approach for your specific analysis.

B. Avoiding errors in the running average calculation
• ### Ensure consistent data range

One common error in calculating a running average is using an inconsistent data range. Make sure that the range of data you are averaging remains constant throughout the calculation to avoid errors.

• ### Check for circular references

Another potential error to watch out for is circular references. When setting up your running average calculation, be mindful of any circular references that may arise, as these can lead to incorrect results.

• ### Verify formula accuracy

Finally, it’s important to double-check the accuracy of your running average formula. Verify that the formula is correctly referencing the intended data range and that it is performing the desired calculations.

## Conclusion

In conclusion, calculating a running average in Excel involves summing a range of values and then dividing by the number of data points. The key steps include selecting the cell where you want the running average to appear, entering the formula, and dragging the formula down to apply it to the entire range. Using running averages is crucial in data analysis as it helps to smooth out fluctuations and identify trends over time, providing a clearer picture of the data.

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