A Brief Introduction to Working with Data and Spreadsheets

This section offers a curated list of existing tutorials for starting to work with data generally, and some ways into thinking about spreadsheets in particular.

  • “What is Data” by School of Data: A quick and clear beginner’s overview to understanding data types (qualitative and quantitative) and categories (categorical, discreet, and continuous) as well as unstructured versus structured data.

  • “What is Data / What is Data Literacy” by Eastern Michigan University: A video/slideshow introductory tutorial on defining data and data literacy, identifying data types, and two forms of statistical analysis. It includes a short quiz at the end. Please note: there is some overlap between this tutorial and “What is Data” by School of Data, but I recommend them both if you are new to working with data.

  • “Representing Data” by Khan Academy: This is a very clear and simple video refresher that shows a few ways to represent the same information (tables, charts, lists, frequency, and range). Please note: whether your data looks like the simple chart from the Khan Academy video or a massive dataset: do keep the same data types in one column.

  • “Sort and Filter: the Basics of Spreadsheets” by School of Data: A quick textual tutorial on basic spreadsheet skills (navigating, sorting, and filtering) with Google Sheets (though the skills are translatable to other similar formats such as Excel or LibreOffice Calc).

  • “Common Misconceptions” by School of Data: Quick textual overview to data and visualization traps and proposed solutions (averages, chart sizes, timelines, correlation and causation, context, % changes, and base rate fallacy).

  • “Data Provenance” by School of Data: A short overview on documenting the history, versions, and processing of a dataset including tips and suggested tools (Excel, OpenRefine, GitHub, DataHub).