Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Excel 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Excel, click here: Using the FORECAST Function.

Using the FORECAST Function

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated May 17, 2014)

The FORECAST function can be used whenever you have an existing set of data pairs (x-values and y-values) and you want to calculate an estimated y-value to a new x-value. Excel performs a linear regression based on the existing values and then inserts the x-values into the expression for the regression which gives you an y-value. The new x-value can have any value and is not restricted to be larger than the existing x-values.

The FORECAST function uses the following syntax:

=FORECAST(X, Yrange, Xrange)

In this usage, X is the X value for which you want FORCAST to return a Y value. The Yrange and Xrange parameters are sets of know Y and X values.

As and example, let's say that you are going on a diet, and you decide to keep track of your weight each day. Every day you enter the date into column A and the weight for that day in column B. After getting about 10 days or so of measurements, you can use these data pairs to forecast when you will hit your target weight. If your target weight is 160 lbs., you could use the following formula:

=FORECAST(160, A2:A11, B2:B11)

The result is the anticipated date when you will reach the target weight.

Excel calculates the "trend line" (using linear regression) of the points in A2:B11 (i.e., it assumes there is a linear relationship between the dates and the weights. (This trend line is the same as you would get from plotting the data pairs and adding a trend line to the chart.)

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2573) applies to Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Excel (Excel 2007 and later) here: Using the FORECAST Function.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He  is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Pasting a Comment into Your Document

When developing a document, you may end up with all sorts of comments that you need to deal with. One common task is to ...

Discover More

Removing a Directory

Macros allow you to perform all sorts of file-related operations. One such operation allows you to delete a directory. ...

Discover More

Keyboard Shortcut for Comments

Adding comments to the cells in your worksheets can help to document different aspects of that worksheet. Adding a ...

Discover More

Excel Smarts for Beginners! Featuring the friendly and trusted For Dummies style, this popular guide shows beginners how to get up and running with Excel while also helping more experienced users get comfortable with the newest features. Check out Excel 2013 For Dummies today!

More ExcelTips (menu)

Counting with Formulas

When you need to count a number of cells based upon a single criteria, the standard function to use is COUNTIF. This tip ...

Discover More

Counting the Number of Blank Cells

If you need to count the number of blank cells in a range, the function to use is COUNTBLANK. This tip discusses the ...

Discover More

Counting Cells with Specific Characters

Excel is used by many people to hold all sorts of data, not just numbers. If you have cells that include meaningful ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is one more than 5?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)


This Site

Got a version of Excel that uses the menu interface (Excel 97, Excel 2000, Excel 2002, or Excel 2003)? This site is for you! If you use a later version of Excel, visit our ExcelTips site focusing on the ribbon interface.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.