Spreadsheets show you what happened in the past. However, you can also use a spreadsheet to help predict the future by typing in data that represents your best guess of what might happen.
When you use a spreadsheet as a prediction tool, you may create a best-case scenario (where customers flood you with orders) and a worst-case scenario (where hardly anybody buys anything). You could type in different data to represent multiple possibilities, but then you'd wipe out your old data. For a quick way to plug different data in the same spreadsheet, Excel offers scenarios.
A scenario lets you define different data for multiple cells. That way, you can choose a scenario to plug in one set of data, and then switch back to your original data without retyping everything.
Creating a scenario
Before you can create a scenario, you must first create a spreadsheet with data and formulas. Then you can create a scenario to define the data to plug into one or more cells.
To create a scenario, follow these steps:
1. Click the Data tab.
2. Click the What-If Analysis icon in the Data Tools group.
A pull-down menu appears.
3. Click Scenario Manager.
The Scenario Manager dialog box appears.
4. Click Add.
The Add Scenario dialog box appears, as shown in Figure 8-9.
Define a scenario name, the cells you want to change, and any comments you want to include.
5. Click in the Scenario Name text box and type a descriptive name for your scenario, such as Worst-case or Best-case.
6. Click in the Changing Cells text box.
7. Click a cell in your spreadsheet that you want to display different data. If you want to choose multiple cells, hold down the Ctrl key and click multiple cells.
8. Click in the Comment text box and type any additional comments you want to add to your scenario, such as any assumptions your scenario made.
9. Click OK.
The Scenario Values dialog box appears, as shown in Figure 8-10.
Type in new values for your selected cells.
10. Type a new value for each cell.
11. Click OK.
The Scenario Manager dialog box appears, as shown in Figure 8-11.
The Scenario Manager dialog box lets you view, edit, or delete your different scenarios.
12. Click Show.
Excel replaces any existing data with the data you typed in Step 10.
13. Click Close.
The data from your scenario remains in the spreadsheet.