The Alteryx Guide for Excel Users

Working with data in Excel can be simple, but it can also be challenging and time-consuming, especially when working with multiple sources and formats of data. Data has to fit into rows and columns, has size limitations, and joining data from multiple spreadsheets requires complex formulas that leave your results vulnerable to errors. What's more, whenever your data changes, you have to repeat each step in the data prep and blending process all over again.

Alteryx takes a different approach with a workflow-based environment that allows you to prep, blend and analyze data from multiple data sources and data types, including unstructured data. And because you spend your time constructing a repeatable workflow that documents exactly how you work with data, you simply have to re-run the workflow any time your data changes — resulting in less time spent analyzing data, less errors, and more consistency.

We've listed some of the most common data-related tasks that many analysts attempt to do in Excel, and alongside them show how you would do it using Alteryx. These examples are meant to help Excel users understand how to translate their Excel knowledge into an Alteryx tool and workflow environment.

To learn more about how Alteryx can help empower Excel users, download the whitepaper Enabling Self-Service Data Analytics: 5 Ways Alteryx Improves Excel Processes. Then, follow along by downloading a free trial of Alteryx.

Opening Files

Excel Alteryx
To open the Excel program click File and then click Open.

Opening Files in Excel

Then simply locate the folder where the file is located. Then just click and open.

Opening Files in Excel
Text Input ToolIn Alteryx to open a file, you drag an Input Tool onto the canvas.

Then click on the Connect a File or Database drop down in the configuration section.

Opening Files in Alteryx

And locate your file wherever it might be located.

Opening Files in Alteryx


Opening Different File Types/Structures

Excel Alteryx
Excel can open a limited amount of structured data from local files.

Opening Different File Types/Structures in Excel

The file types, sources and structure can be expanded by accessing data from the web, text and a wider range of other data sources.

Opening Different File Types/Structures in Excel
Text Input ToolAlteryx offers users a wide range of data access to multiple sources and structures of data. Using the Input Tool, users can access data locally from Excel, Access, XML, SAS, SPSS, MapInfo and even data stored in databases or HDFS.

Opening Different File Types/Structures in Alteryx

In addition, Alteryx has direct connectors to access data stored in a cloud systems like Amazon S3, Twitter, Foursquare, Marketo, Salesforce, Microsoft Sharepoint or other Big Data environments like Amazon Redshift, Impala, Spark and more.


Input Multiple Files from a Folder

Excel Alteryx
In Excel if you have a folder that has multiple files of the same type (e.g. .CSV), you need to select each one of these and they will open, one at a time in separate worksheets.

Inputing data in Excel
Text Input ToolTo do this in Alteryx, drag an Input Tool onto the canvas, locate the folder and insert a wildcard (*). In this case we are bringing in two .CSV files.

Using the Input Tool locate the directory and file you are looking for. In this case it is POS_Data.

Open a data file in Alteryx

Then once I bring in that file POS_Data, we can go to the configuration section and edit the directory path by adding a ( _*.csv). This will bring in all of the .CSV files in the same directory and union them together as long as they are the same table structure and format.

Input data configuration

Rename Columns

Excel Alteryx
Renaming Columns can be quick and easy in Excel. You just have to click on the column cell and change the name.

Renaming columns in Excel
Select ToolIt’s also easy to do in Alteryx. Using a Select Tool, you simply rename the field whatever you want.

Renaming columns in Alteryx


Change Data Types

Excel Alteryx
If you want to force Excel to consider numbers as a string, you can precede the numbers with an apostrophe ('), or you have to select the cells and/or columns, go in the "Format Cells" menu to view and set other types of information, such as currencies, dates, etc.

Changing data types in Excel
Select ToolIn Alteryx, the Select Tool allows you to change the data type to whatever format you want.

Changin data types in Alteryx

Auto Field ToolIn addition to the Select tool, you can utilize the Auto Field Tool which, as the name suggests, is able to interpret the data and assign the type and size appropriate for the content. This is especially useful for fields that contain text strings.

DateTime ToolFinally, there are some conversions which are a little more complex. Dates can be awkward, because the Select tool may not be able to understand your preferred date format. To satisfy this, there is a specific DateTime Tool.


Removing Columns

Excel Alteryx
To remove a column used in a calculated field, you cannot delete the original without having to copy and paste values, otherwise your formula will break.

Removing columns in Alteryx
Select ToolIn Alteryx this is not a problem. Just use the Select Tool and untick the box next to anything you don’t need or want to hide, and it will be removed from your workflow, without affecting formulas.

Removing columns  in Alteryx


Removing Rows

Excel Alteryx
This is either a manual selection in Excel, or you need to use a quick filter to find what you don’t need.

Removing rows in Excel
Filter ToolIf you can list the criteria, you can use the Filter Tool. If it’s complicated, you can use a formula to build IF expressions or use the switch () function

Removing rows in Alteryx


Create New Columns

Excel Alteryx
The most common way of creating new fields in Excel is to insert a new column, name the column and write in a formula if necessary.

Create new columns in Excel
Formula ToolIn Alteryx, we do not have to insert the column into our table, we can just add a new output field to our workflow using the Formula Tool. Simply type in the new field (Value Targets in this case) and your new field is calculated on every row.

Create new columns in Alteryx

Tip 1: If you need to concatenate with first name and last name together, use a formula with the + symbol. Most other text‐based formulas use the same name and syntax, for instance Left () or Right (). The Alteryx manual (press F1) will help you identify those which don’t.

Formula ToolTip 2: If you’re splitting a field with a regular format (for instance, maybe splitting a comma separated address field), use the Text To Columns Tool.

IF Statements

Excel Alteryx
Everybody uses IF statements in Excel. It is one the most popular decision making functions in the platform. To create a new Sales Potential column that buckets scores as High, Medium or Low, you utilize this IF statement in Excel:

=IF(V2>2500, "High", IF(V2>1499, "Medium", "Low"))

IF Statements in Excel
Formula ToolThe Formula Tool is a powerful processor of data and formulas. Use it to add a field to an input table, to create new data fields based on an expression or data relationship, or to update an existing field based on these same premises. To create the same IF statement in Alteryx, simply create a new output field called Sales Potential, and using the Total Sales field, input the following Expression:

IF [Total Sales] > 2500 THEN "High" ELSEIF [Total Sales] > 1499 && [Total Sales] < 2501 THEN "Medium" ELSE "Low" ENDIF

IF Statements in Alteryx


Auto Sum

Excel Alteryx
Creating an Auto Sum in Excel requires that you select the related fields and rows and then click the Auto Sum symbol. Or if you need to you can write a =SUM formula.

Auto Sum in Excel
Summarize ToolThe Summarize Tool can do a host of summary processes, including: grouping, summing, count, spatial object processing, string concatenation, and much more. In this example the Summarize tool is used to group transactions by customer and to total up the transactions to see the customer’s total spend.

Auto Sum in Alteryx


Calculate Cumulative Sum of Rows

Excel Alteryx
To create the cumulative sum of rows in Excel, you must create a new column, then set the cumulative range. In this case the starting point is =S2, and then you add =S2 + R3 for the second row. Once this is established, we can copy the formula for the rest of the related information.

Calculate Cumulative Sum of Rows in Excel
Multi-Row Formula ToolThe Multi-Row Formula Tool takes the concept of the Formula Tool a step further, allowing the user to utilize row data as part of the formula creation. This tool is useful for parsing complex data, and creating running totals, averages, percentages and other mathematical calculations. In this case, we create a new field, and then create an expression.

Calculate Cumulative Sum of Rows in Alteryx


Calculate Percentages of a Total

Excel Alteryx
Calculating percentages on each field based on a total in Excel, may require you to first build a table of your data, then build a pivot table based on that data. The other option is to write an SUMIF() statement to calculate the percentages for each Month and Amount. Below we highlight the Pivot Table example.

Calculate Percentages each field makes of a total in Excel

Calculate Percentages each field makes of a total in Excel
Multi-Row Formula ToolThe Multi Field Formula Tool makes it easy to execute a single function on multiple fields. This example builds new columns/fields in the data that display a percentage of each month.

Calculate Percentages each field makes of a total in Alteryx

Calculate Percentages each field makes of a total in Alteryx


Excel Alteryx
Doing a filter in Excel is easy to do. You simply select the worksheet or columns you want to filter and then select the filter drop down.

Filter in Excel
Filter ToolThe Filter Tool in Alteryx lets you do a basic filter to split data into two streams: True (data that satisfies the expression) or False (data that does not).

Filter in Alteryx



Excel Alteryx
Sorting by multiple columns in Excel is easy. Just highlight the worksheet and do a sort or custom sort.

Sort in Excel
Sort ToolThe Sort Tool in Alteryx makes it just as easy, allowing you to organize your data just the way you need it. Just select the name of the column and choose between ascending or descending.

Sorting in Alteryx


Pivot Data

Excel Alteryx
Pivoting data in Excel (such as transposing data or creating a cross tab) will typically require that you build a Pivot Table to get the data in the shape you want.

Pivot Tables in Excel
Transpose ToolThe Transpose Tool allows you to pivot the orientation of the data table. It transforms the data so you may view horizontal data fields on a vertical axis. This tool is useful for extracting non-conforming data. There is no limit to the amount of records or fields that can be transposed.

Pivot Tables in Alteryx

Cross TabToolThe Cross Tab Tool pivots the orientation of the data table. It transforms the data so vertical data fields can be viewed on a horizontal axis summarizing data where specified.

Cross Tab Tool in Alteryx


Reorder Fields

Excel Alteryx
Reordering columns or fields in Excel requires that you highlight the columns, and then use the Shift key to drag and drop the columns to the space you want.

Reorder Fields in Excel
Select ToolIf you need to reorder your columns in Alteryx, then you can do so using the Select Tool or you can do the same in the Formula Tool.

Reordering Fields in Alteryx

Append Data

Excel Alteryx
With Excel, you must ensure that the columns of the two tables are exactly the same and in the same order. Then you copy the entire contents of the second table, and paste it into the first empty row of the first table.

Appending data in Excel
Union ToolThere is a much easier way to do this in Alteryx. The Union Tool and it allows you to combine multiple worksheets based on the field names while maintaining the position of each column. You can easily change the order of the column headers in each worksheet so they match up.

Using the Union tool to append data in Alteryx


Blend Data - VLOOKUPS

Excel Alteryx
With Excel, in order to join multiple worksheets, you can use the VLOOKUP formula or INDEX MATCH formula to bring in information to the data sets from a different source(s) or table(s). For those unaware of INDEX MATCH, this is used instead of a VLOOKUP formula if the lookup value is not in the left most column, and thus we cannot use the VLOOKUP formula.

VLOOKUP in Excel
Join ToolIf you need multiple matches to have their own rows, then a join would be better. You can input two data sets and join them using either the Join Tool, or if you’re connecting to a compatible data source, you can actually join them in the Input tool.

With the Join tool you join two tables with a common field (primary key) to create a:

  • Inner Join (J): create new columns to the right of the source table (L) in which there are the values of the table to join (R) that satisfy the collation.
  • Left Join (L): are the records of the original table (L) that have not found a match in the table to join (R)
  • Right Join: (R): are the records of the table to be joined (R) that have not found a match in the source table (L).

Join data in Alteryx

In-DB Join ToolYou can also utilize the In-DB Join Tool if you are working with data in a database. The Alteryx In-DB tools enables blending and analysis against large sets of data without moving the data out of a database and can provide significant performance improvements over traditional analysis methods.

The In-DB Join Tool lets you do inner, left, right and even full joins.

  • Inner Join (J): create new columns to the right of the source table (L) in which there are the values of the table to join (R) that satisfy the collation.
  • Left Join (L): are the records of the original table (L) that have not found a match in the table to join (R)
  • Right Join: (R): are the records of the table to be joined (R) that have not found a match in the source table (L).
  • Full Outer Join: are all records contained in both the (L) and (R) tables

You can learn more about the Alteryx In-database tools here.

Grouping Rows and Aggregating

Excel Alteryx
If you want to summarize data in Excel you build a pivot table.

Grouping Rows and Aggregating in Excel
Summarize ToolThe Summarize Tool in Alteryx works just like a pivot table in Excel. You can group data, then sum, count, or perform other calculations on other fields.

Grouping Rows and Aggregating in Alteryx


If you haven't already downloaded Alteryx, you can get a free trial at

To learn more or get help with other features in Alteryx from other Alteryx users, please visit the Alteryx Community.

We would like to extend a special thanks to our partner the Information Lab for their contribution on this informative information. To learn more about the Information Lab, you can visit their website at




Los Gehts