A decision tree is a type of chart that displays likely results for different decisions, leading ultimately to the best course of action to take to reach the main goal. The chart lists the goal, from which different options branch out. Although a decision tree is not a typical graph that you would find in Microsoft Excel’s chart types or subtypes, you can still use the program to make one.
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Open a new Excel worksheet. Go to the "Insert" tab, click on the "Shapes" drop-down and select a rectangle. Drag the cursor around two adjacent cells in column A to draw a rectangle. To give yourself more room for answer branches, draw this shape halfway down the visible column on the screen.
Right-click the rectangle and select "Edit Text" to make it an active text box. Type the question that needs to be decided inside this box. If the box is not large enough to display all the text, make it larger by clicking and dragging out one of the borders.
Draw lines using the Shapes feature, extending them from the question box to other cells on the right that will contain each possible answer or outcome. Insert a text box from the Shapes menu at the end of each line and type in a description of the answer or outcome.
Continue drawing lines and adding text boxes for each possible answer and all resulting possible outcomes for each decision.
Change the colour or outline of a text box by right-clicking it and choosing "Format Shape." Adjust the fill colour on the Fill tab, and the line colour on the Line Color tab. Click "OK" to apply the changes.
Tips and warnings
- When you have finished the decision tree, review it and add any decisions or outcomes you missed.
- If costs are a factor in the decision process, consider adding this data in cells adjacent to the different answer boxes and using formulas to calculate the totals.
- Weigh the different outcomes to help you find the best decision.
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