How to Make a Decision Tree in Excel

By Stephanie Ellen

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 analyze 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.

Step 1

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.

Step 2

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.

Step 3

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").

Step 4

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.

Step 5

Repeat the above process to as many branches as you need to your tree.

Tips & Warnings

  • Add-ins area available for Excel to create decision trees. See Resources for a link to the Excel add-ins website.