How to Create a Scenario in Excel: Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners

Creating a scenario in Excel is like setting up a virtual playground for your data, allowing you to experiment with different outcomes. By using Excel’s built-in Scenario Manager, you can easily create multiple scenarios to see how changes in your data affect the results. Follow the steps below to get started with creating scenarios in Excel.

Creating a Scenario in Excel

By following these steps, you’ll be able to create different scenarios in Excel that will help you compare various outcomes based on changes in your data. This is particularly useful for financial planning, project management, or any task where you need to predict the impact of changes.

Step 1: Open Your Excel Workbook

Open the Excel workbook where you want to create a scenario.

Make sure your data is organized and you know which cells you want to change for your scenarios. It’s essential to have a clear idea of the variables you’ll be adjusting.

Step 2: Go to the Data Tab

Click on the ‘Data’ tab in the Excel ribbon.

The Data tab contains various tools for managing and analyzing data. It’s where you’ll find the Scenario Manager.

Step 3: Open Scenario Manager

Click on ‘What-If Analysis’ and then select ‘Scenario Manager’.

The Scenario Manager window will appear. This is where you can create, edit, and manage your scenarios.

Step 4: Add a New Scenario

Click the ‘Add’ button to create a new scenario.

You’ll be prompted to name your scenario and choose the cells you want to change. Be descriptive with your scenario names so you can easily identify them later.

Step 5: Define Changing Cells

Enter the cell references that you want to change in your scenario.

You can manually type in the cell references or click and drag to select them. These are the variables that will change to create different outcomes.

Step 6: Input Scenario Values

Enter the values for the changing cells for this scenario and then click ‘OK’.

You can create multiple scenarios by repeating steps 4 to 6. Each scenario can have different values for the changing cells.

Step 7: View Scenarios

Click ‘Show’ to view each scenario and see how it affects your data.

You can switch between scenarios to compare the different outcomes. This helps you visualize the impact of changes without altering your original data.

Once you’ve completed these steps, you’ll be able to switch between different scenarios to see how changes impact your data. This is a powerful way to explore "what-if" scenarios and make informed decisions based on your findings.

Tips for Creating a Scenario in Excel

  • Label Clearly: Use descriptive names for your scenarios to keep track of them easily.
  • Back Up Data: Always keep a copy of your original data before making changes.
  • Use References: Use cell references instead of hardcoding values to make scenarios more dynamic.
  • Test Thoroughly: Double-check your scenarios to ensure they reflect realistic and relevant changes.
  • Document Assumptions: Keep notes on the assumptions for each scenario to avoid confusion later.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a scenario in Excel?

A scenario in Excel is a set of values that Excel saves and can substitute automatically in your worksheet. You can create and save different groups of values on a worksheet and then switch to any of these new scenarios to view different results.

How many scenarios can I create in Excel?

Excel allows you to create up to 32 different scenarios in any single worksheet.

Can I print my scenarios in Excel?

Yes, you can print a summary of your scenarios by using the Scenario Manager. Click ‘Summary’ in the Scenario Manager dialog box and choose ‘Scenario Summary’ to print.

Are scenarios and data tables the same in Excel?

No, scenarios and data tables are not the same. Scenarios are part of the What-If Analysis tools that let you test different input values, while data tables allow you to see the results of one or more formulas with different sets of input values.

Why are my scenarios not updating?

If your scenarios are not updating, make sure that the references and values you have entered are correct. Also, ensure that you are clicking ‘Show’ to display the scenario.

Summary of Steps

  1. Open your Excel workbook.
  2. Go to the Data tab.
  3. Open Scenario Manager.
  4. Add a new scenario.
  5. Define changing cells.
  6. Input scenario values.
  7. View scenarios.


Creating a scenario in Excel empowers you to explore various outcomes and make data-driven decisions. By following the steps outlined above, you can efficiently set up multiple scenarios and see the potential impacts of different choices. This feature is invaluable for anyone involved in planning, forecasting, or managing projects.

If you’re new to Excel’s Scenario Manager, don’t worry; it’s quite intuitive once you get the hang of it. Start by experimenting with a simple data set and gradually move on to more complex scenarios. Remember, the key is to be organized with your data and clear with your scenario names.

For further reading, check out Excel’s official documentation on Scenario Manager, or dive into specific use cases like financial modeling or project management. Embrace the power of “what-if” analysis and take your data skills to the next level!

Get Our Free Newsletter

How-to guides and tech deals

You may opt out at any time.
Read our Privacy Policy