How to use Excel to validate a dataset according to Benford’s Law

Benford’s Law describes the phenomenon that in a large dataset, the leading digit of each number does not occur with the intuitively expected probability of 1:9 (11.1%), but rather with a much larger probability for the smaller numbers. For more details on Benfords’s Law, you can read the Wikipedia Article about it, but keep on reading here if you want to learn how to use Excel to check if a dataset is consistent with it. It’s very easy!

For this example I have used population data for all the counties of the United States from census.gov:

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How to handle parts per million, basis points and per mille in Excel

Excel has built-in functionality to handle percent (%), but there is no automatic way to calculate parts per million, basis points, permyriad or per mille in Excel. It is easy to calculate though, but let’s start with the definitions:

And here’s how to apply it:

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Today’s shortcut: Scroll sideways with PageUp and PageDown in Excel

We all know how to scroll one screen down in Word, Excel or almost any other application: Simply press the Page Down key. But in Excel we often want to scroll sideways too, and here’s how to do it:

Scroll one screen to the right: Alt + Page Down

Scroll one screen to the left: Alt + Page Up

EasyExcel_44_Scroll_sideways

More shortcuts in Excel:

Are you using a non-English version of Excel? Click here for translations of the 140 most common functions in 17 different languages:

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Create random text strings and line breaks with the CHAR function

How to generate a string of random letters in Excel

The CHAR function returns a character that corresponds to the number in the character set used by your computer (ANSI for Windows). There are up to 255 different characters in the set, with the capital letters from A-Z starting at number 65. Z is 90. To generate a random letter you can use the RANDBETWEEN function:

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