A decision tree can help you make decisions, whether they are day-to-day decisions or ones that have long-term effects. Decision trees can have many branches (each representing a decision), enabling you to analyse the effects of complex decisions and see the results of those decisions in a spreadsheet format. Microsoft Excel's shape tool can start off your brainstorming and allow you to create branches as you think about your decision.
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Draw a square in a blank Excel worksheet. In Excel 2007, click "Insert," then "Shapes" and then click on a square. In Excel 2003, click on the "Rectangle" autoshape button on the drawing toolbar and drag the square to your worksheet.
Right-click on the square and click "Add text." Type the major decision into the box. For example, you might be deciding whether to save or spend a recent windfall, so write "Save or Spend" in the box.
Select a "Line" shape from the toolbar. Click on the right edge of the square and drag the line to a length of an inch or two (you can change the lengths of the lines at a later time by clicking and dragging on them). In the above example, you would draw two lines of equal length (one for "Spend" and one for "Save").
Draw two more squares at the end of the lines, repeating the process for inserting a square from Steps 1 and 2 to draw the square and insert text. In the given example, write "Spend" in one text box and "Save" in the other. This creates your first set of branches.
Repeat the above process to as many branches as you need to your tree.
Tips and warnings
- Add-ins area available for Excel to create decision trees. See Resources for a link to the Excel add-ins website.
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