How to Calculate Frequency in Excel: A Step-by-Step Guide

Calculating frequency in Excel is simpler than you might think. It involves using the ‘FREQUENCY’ function, which helps count how many times a certain value occurs within a range of values. This can be particularly useful for analyzing and organizing large sets of data, like scores, measurements, or responses. By the end of this quick overview, you’ll have a basic understanding of how to calculate frequency in Excel.

Step by Step Tutorial on How to Calculate Frequency in Excel

Before diving into the steps, let’s understand what we’re aiming for. By following these steps, you’ll learn how to use Excel’s FREQUENCY function to calculate how often values appear within a certain range.

Step 1: Organize Your Data

Organize the data you want to analyze in a single column.

Having your data organized is crucial. Make sure all the values you want to analyze are in one column without any gaps or blank cells. This will make the next steps a breeze.

Step 2: Create Bins

Create a new column for ‘bins,’ which are the ranges of values for which you want to calculate frequency.

Bins are essentially the containers that will hold the frequency counts for each range. Think of them as buckets where you toss in the values to see how much they fill up.

Step 3: Use the FREQUENCY Function

Type in the FREQUENCY function in a cell adjacent to your bins.

The syntax for the FREQUENCY function is =FREQUENCY(data_array, bins_array). ‘data_array’ is where your data is, and ‘bins_array’ is where your bins are. Once you enter this function, press Ctrl+Shift+Enter.

Step 4: Interpret the Results

Review the outputted frequencies next to each bin.

The cells next to your bins will now display the frequency of values that fall within each range. This data can tell you a lot about patterns and distribution in your dataset.

After completing these steps, you’ll have a clear table displaying the frequency of each range of values in your data set. This allows for easy analysis and can be very helpful for reporting or decision making.

Tips for Calculating Frequency in Excel

  • Always ensure your data is clean and organized before starting.
  • Bins can be of equal or varying ranges, but make sure they cover the entire span of your data.
  • The FREQUENCY function does not count text or zero values, so consider this when preparing your data.
  • If the output isn’t what you expected, double-check that you’re using Ctrl+Shift+Enter to activate the array formula.
  • You can also use the COUNTIF function for a simple count of specific values within your data.

Frequently Asked Questions

What if my data includes zero values?

The FREQUENCY function does not count zero values. If you need to include zeroes in your count, you might want to use a different function, like COUNTIF.

Zero values are often important, so if you need them included, COUNTIF might be a better choice. This function allows you to set criteria for what to count, including zeroes.

Can I use the FREQUENCY function for non-numeric data?

No, the FREQUENCY function is designed for numeric data only.

If you have non-numeric data, consider using the COUNTIF function instead, which can handle text values as long as you define the criteria properly.

Do I have to use Ctrl+Shift+Enter with the FREQUENCY function?

Yes, this is what turns your function into an array formula, which is necessary for the FREQUENCY function to work correctly.

Not using Ctrl+Shift+Enter can result in incorrect data or errors, so don’t forget this vital step.

How do I choose the size of my bins?

The size of your bins depends on the range and distribution of your data. Smaller bins can give you more detailed information, while larger bins provide a broader overview.

Think about what you want to learn from your data. If it’s more general trends, go for larger bins. If it’s detailed insights, opt for smaller ones.

Can I use the FREQUENCY function to create histograms?

Yes, the FREQUENCY function is actually the basis for creating histograms in Excel.

Once you have your frequency data, you can easily turn it into a visual histogram using Excel’s chart features. This can be a great way to present your findings.


  1. Organize your data
  2. Create bins
  3. Use the FREQUENCY function
  4. Interpret the results


Mastering how to calculate frequency in Excel can be a game-changer when it comes to data analysis. Whether you’re a student, a business analyst, or just someone who loves to organize and interpret data, knowing this function adds a powerful tool to your arsenal. Remember, Excel is not just about crunching numbers; it’s a way to find meaning in the figures.

As we wrap up, consider the power of understanding your data’s frequency. What patterns could you uncover? How could this influence your decisions or your understanding of a topic? Encourage yourself to play around with Excel’s functions, and don’t shy away from exploring further resources or tutorials to enhance your skills.

And if you ever feel stuck, don’t forget that practice makes perfect. Keep experimenting with different sets of data and ranges; you’ll soon find that calculating frequency in Excel will become second nature. Happy analyzing!

Join Our Free Newsletter

Featured guides and deals

You may opt out at any time. Read our Privacy Policy