Getting Started with Minitab 18 introduces you to some of the most commonly used features and tasks in Minitab.

Most statistical analyses require that you follow a series of steps, often directed by background knowledge or by the subject area that you are investigating. Chapters 2 through 5 illustrate the following steps:
  • Explore data with graphs
  • Conduct statistical analyses
  • Assess quality
  • Design an experiment
In chapters 6 through 9, you learn to do the following:
  • Use shortcuts to automate future analyses
  • Present results
  • Prepare worksheets
  • Customize Minitab

The story

A company that sells books online has three regional shipping centers. Each shipping center uses a different computer system to enter and process orders. The company wants to identify the most efficient computer system and to use that computer system at each shipping center.

Throughout Getting Started with Minitab 18, you analyze data from the shipping centers as you learn to use Minitab. You create graphs and perform statistical analyses to identify the shipping center that has the most efficient computer system. You then concentrate on the data from this shipping center. First, you create control charts to test whether the shipping center’s process is in control. Then, you perform a capability analysis to test whether the process is operating within specification limits. Finally, you perform a designed experiment to determine ways to improve those processes.

You also learn about session commands, and how to generate a report, prepare a worksheet, and customize Minitab.

The Minitab user interface

Before you start your analysis, open Minitab and examine the Minitab user interface. From the Windows taskbar, choose Start > All Programs > Minitab > Minitab 18.

By default, Minitab opens with two windows visible and one window minimized.
Session window
The Session window displays the results of your analyses in text format. Also, in this window, you can enter session commands in the Command Line pane instead of using Minitab’s menus.
The worksheet, which is similar to a spreadsheet, is where you enter and arrange your data. You can open multiple worksheets.
Project Manager
The third window, the Project Manager, is minimized below the worksheet.

Projects and worksheets

In a project, you can manipulate data, perform analyses, and generate graphs. Projects contain one or more worksheets.

Project (.MPJ) files store the following items:
  • Worksheets
  • Graphs
  • Session window output
  • Session command history
  • Dialog box settings
  • Window layout
  • Options
Worksheet (.MTW) files store the following items:
  • Columns of data
  • Constants
  • Matrices
  • Models for response variables
  • Design objects
  • Column descriptions
  • Worksheet descriptions

Save your work as a project file to keep all of your data, graphs, dialog box settings, and options together. Save your work as a worksheet file to save only the data. A worksheet file can be used in multiple projects. Worksheets can have up to 4,000 columns. The number of worksheets that a project can have is limited only by your computer's memory.

Data types

A worksheet can contain the following types of data.
Numeric data
Numbers, such as 264 or 5.28125.
Text data
Letters, numbers, spaces, and special characters, such as Test #4 or North America.
Date/time data

Dates, such as Mar-17-2013, 17-Mar-2013, 3/17/13, or 17/03/13.

Times, such as 08:25:22 AM.

Date/time, such as 3/17/13 08:25:22 AM or 17/03/13 08:25:22.

Open and examine a worksheet

You can open a new, empty worksheet at any time. You can also open one or more files that contain data, such as a Microsoft Excel file. When you open a file, you copy the contents of the file into the current Minitab project. Any changes that you make to the worksheet while you are in the project do not affect the original file.

The data for the three shipping centers are stored in the worksheet, ShippingData.MTW.


In some cases, you need to prepare your worksheet before you begin an analysis. For more information, go to Preparing a Worksheet.

  1. Open the sample data, ShippingData.MTW.

The data are arranged in columns, which are also called variables. The column number and name are at the top of each column.

This image shows a Minitab worksheet with numeric, text, and date/time data.

In the worksheet, each row represents a single book order. The columns contain the following information:

  • Center: shipping center name
  • Order: order date and time
  • Arrival: delivery date and time
  • Days: delivery time in days
  • Status: delivery status

    On time indicates that the book shipment was received on time. Back order indicates that the book cannot be shipped yet because it is not currently in stock. Late indicates that the book shipment was received six or more days after the order was placed.

  • Distance: distance from the shipping center to the delivery location

In the next chapter

Now that you have a worksheet open, you are ready to start using Minitab. In the next chapter, you use graphs to check the data for normality and examine the relationships between variables.

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