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

Sharing AutoText Entries

AutoText entries can make your writing more productive, if used effectively. Because of this, it can be advantageous for ...

Discover More

Copying Styles

If you use styles in your documents, you know it can take a good investment of time to get them just the way you want. ...

Discover More

Deleting Files or Folders

Part of managing the files and folders on a system is the need to occasionally delete them. Here's a quick discussion on ...

Discover More

Create Custom Apps with VBA! Discover how to extend the capabilities of Office 2013 (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and Access) with VBA programming, using it for writing macros, automating Office applications, and creating custom applications. Check out Mastering VBA for Office 2013 today!

More ExcelTips (menu)

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 within Criteria

You can use the COUNTIF function to determine how many cells in a range fit your criteria. One criterion is easy; using ...

Discover More

Adding Up Tops and Bottoms

When you are working with sequenced values in a list, you'll often want to take some action based on the top X or bottom ...

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 eight minus 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.