Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Microsoft 365. If you are using an earlier version (Excel 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Excel, click here: Creating Scenarios.

Creating Scenarios

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated January 9, 2023)
This tip applies to Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Microsoft 365


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You already know that Excel provides the ability to play "what if" with your worksheets. As an adjunct to this capability, Excel provides the Scenario Manager, which allows you to save different data scenarios. Using this tool, you can save different variables for your sheet and call them up quickly and easily.

As an example, let's suppose that you work for Talbot Industries, and you have been charged with developing a profitability analysis for a new product—the Potato Chip Peeler. You develop your sheet, taking into account all the appropriate information. However, you know that it is prudent at your company to actually prepare three forecasts. The first would be the worst-case scenario, the second is the most-likely scenario, and the final is the best-case scenario.

To save a scenario, follow these steps:

  1. Make sure the worksheet reflects one of your scenarios.
  2. Select the cells that will be changing in the scenario. For instance, you might select the cells at B4:B11 and F5:F11, if these are the cells that will change from one scenario to another.
  3. Display the Data tab of the ribbon.
  4. Click the What-If Analysis tool (in the Data Tools group if you are using Excel 2007, Excel 2010, or Excel 2013) or click the What-If Analysis tool (in the Forecast group if you are using Excel 2016 or a later version) and then click Scenario Manager. Excel displays the Scenario Manager dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  5. Figure 1. The Scenario Manager dialog box.

  6. Click on the Add button. Excel displays the Add Scenario dialog box. The cells you selected in step 2 should already be indicated in the Changing Cells field. (See Figure 2.)
  7. Figure 2. The Add Scenario dialog box.

  8. Enter a name for the scenario, such as Most Likely or Worst Case.
  9. Click on the OK button. Excel shows you a dialog box containing a list of the values in the scenario. Each cell is listed along with its value. If the cell has a name assigned to it, the name is used. If not, the cell address is used.
  10. If you like, you can change the values stored in the scenario.
  11. When you are satisfied, click on the OK button. The scenario is then saved under the name you specified, and your original worksheet is unchanged.

Once you have a scenario saved, you can make changes to your workbook and save your changed figures under a different scenario.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (8567) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Microsoft 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Creating Scenarios.

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. ...

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What is seven more than 6?

2023-01-24 00:45:46

Tomek

There are many uses of scenarios that will let you have just one spreadsheet, instead of several versions than need maintenance.
One that may not be obvious, but I found very useful, was to create different Language versions of the same calculation sheet (in my case to be used in English, French and Spanish speaking locations of our company). In that case all labels and text cells were included in the scenarios and were switched to the preferred language when the user selected the appropriate scenario (I automated that part by using a drop-down list).

Unluckily, scenarios have sheet scope, not workbook scope, but how to overcome this is another story.


2023-01-23 15:26:12

Tomek

There are many uses of scenarios that will let you have just one spreadsheet, instead of several versions than need maintenance.
One that may not be obvious, but I found very useful, was to create different Language versions of the same calculation sheet (in my case to be used in English, French and Spanish speaking locations of our company). In that case all labels and text cells were included in the scenarios and were switched to the preferred language when the user selected the appropriate scenario (I automated that part by using a drop-down list).

Unluckily, scenarios have sheet scope, not workbook scope, but how to overcome this is another story.


2023-01-23 15:06:01

Tomek

Scenarios are a very useful tool when creating versions of the same spreadsheet, but you have to understand how they work to avoid pitfalls. Here are two of the rules that I learned hard way, and I now follow when using scenarios:

Rule 1
As changing cells select only those that contain constants. Any formulas will be converted to constants when the scenario is displayed, and the calculations may be lost. Instead, include all ultimate precedent cells as the changing cells; when the values of those change the resulting calculations will be updated as well.
Hint: I colour-code all changing cells to let the user know that these are "Input Cells" (I use light green background).

Rule 2:
If creating several related scenarios, consider including the same changing cells in all of them, even if some of them do not change in most of your scenarios. This will prevent forgetting those cells when switching from an atypical to typical scenario.

There are more tips on scenarios on this site as well as elsewhere on the internet so check them too.


2023-01-23 14:31:56

Tomek

Gregg:
You cannot really toggle the scenario, what you can do is only display a saved scenario. When you do this, whatever was in the changing cells of the selected Scenario will be replaced (overwritten) by the values saved within the scenario. While you cannot un-display the scenario, you can use undo to revert to previous status, i.e, before displaying the scenario.

If you need certain set of data to revert to after displaying other scenarios, you need to save that set as another scenario, may-be naming it a Stating Scenario.

If by toggle off the scenario you meant "How do I edit my data after displaying a scenario?" you can simply do that; what displaying a scenario means is that the values in the changing cells are recalled from the scenario, but you can keep editing them as well as the rest of the sheet as needed.

I will post another comment with hints on how to design a scenario and what to avoid.


2023-01-22 14:29:04

Gregg W. Tulley

Once I have created and saved a Scenario using the Scenario Manager in Excel 2019, how do I toggle off the Scenario so that I may revert back to the original workbook, with the ability to toggle that Scenario when desired?


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