A Quick Introduction to Minitab Statistical Software
This introduction to Minitab is intended to provide you with enough information to get you started using the basic functionality of Minitab. Of course, you will learn more about Minitab and its capabilities as you proceed through the course you are taking.
Obtaining a Copy of Minitab
The Minitab software is available through a number of vendors as well as at the Minitab Website. You can get a license for 6 or 12 months.
Minitab can also be accessed through Penn State's WebApps service although there are limitations to how it may be used in the web-based environment. Students are STRONGLY advised to have access to a local copy installed. Please contact your instructor to see if using Minitab remotely will present problems for what you need to learn.
Three Types of Windows
When you open Minitab, you will typically see something that looks like this:
The top window — called the Session window — is where Minitab will output the results of your requested statistical analyses. The bottom window — called the Worksheet window — is where you will copy and paste the data. The third type of window — called a Graphics window — only appears when you've asked Minitab to plot something. Here is one example of a graphics window:
The active window is the window whose top bar appears as a darker blue. To make an inactive window active, simply click your mouse anywhere in the window. Convince yourself that you understand this behavior by clicking back and forth between the Session window and the Worksheet window — you should see the top bars of the two windows change back and forth from a lighter to a darker blue.
Copying and Pasting Data into a Minitab Worksheet
All of the data that you analyze in this course will be posted on the course web site. You will just have to copy and paste the data into a worksheet. Let's try it out on the idealwt.txt data set. Once the data are in your browser's window, the easiest way of copying the data is to Select all and then right-click and Copy. To paste the data into the Minitab worksheet, put your cursor in the first (unnumbered) row of the first column, and then click on Edit > Paste cells (or click on the standard clipboard icon used to denote pasting).
Note: Users accessing Minitab via Penn State's RemoteApps or WebApps will not be able to use this copy and paste technique. Instead all files must be uploaded into your PASS space and open these files in Minitab from this location in PASS.
Your worksheet should look like this:
Note that the first (unnumbered) row is reserved for variable names. This is one thing about which you will have to be careful. If you accidentally place your cursor instead in the row numbered 1, Minitab will then treat the data as if they are text:
Note that Minitab has added a "-T" to the column names C1 and C2 to denote that the content of the two columns is text. Another indication that the content of the columns is treated as text is that the textual content is left-justified whereas numbers are always right-justified. Minitab cannot summarize data, such as calculating means and standard deviations, when they are treated as text. If you accidentally make this mistake, just open a new worksheet (Select File > New... > Minitab Worksheet > OK) and paste the data properly.
The Minitab Help and How-To documentation provides step by step instructions on using Minitab to analyze data. The individual course notes will also provide details for each specific use of Minitab within that course.
Copying Minitab Output and Graphs into Word
To copy output appearing in the Session window, select the desired output using your mouse. To copy a graph window, make the graph window active by clicking anywhere in it, and the select Edit > Copy Graph.
To paste either output or a graph, select Edit > Paste (or use the standard clipboard icon used to denote pasting).
WebApps users should select the Send Graph to Microsoft Word option and a Word Document with this graph in it will be created and can be saved in your PASS space.
Saving Your Work
While you can save your work in bits and pieces — the graphs separately from the worksheet —more often than not, it is best to save your entire Minitab "project." A Minitab project includes all of the work created in one session, including multiple worksheets, the Session window, and multiple graph windows. Basically, if you save your work as a Minitab project, you can resume your work right where you left off.
To save your work as a Minitab project, select File > Save Project As..., and provide an appropriate filename in the dialog box. Minitab projects are given a ".MPJ" extension. For the purpose of this course, you may consider creating one project for each lesson, and thereby naming the projects lesson1.MPJ, lesson2.MPJ, and so on.
WebApps users work will be saved in the user's PASS space. It can be download to the user's local computer from there.
Printing Your Work
Of course, you can print your Minitab work as well. To do so, activate the window that you want to print by clicking your mouse anywhere on the window. Then, select File > Print Worksheet or File > Print Session Window or File > Print Graph depending on what it is that you want to print.
There are various ways that you can get Minitab help.
- If you would like more tutorial help, you can try the Tutorials option provided under the Help pull-down menu in the Minitab Application shown below:
- You can look for help in the Minitab Help on-line manual also listed in the pull-down menu pictured above.
- You can use the various sets of Minitab instructions provided to you throughout the course. You will probably find links to these from the Homework Problems and Lab Activities in each lesson.
- Finally, you can post a question to a discussion in Canvas. Other students or your instructor can provide ideas and feedback.
Support From Minitab
Minitab offers several resources that are helpful for you. Minitab 18 Support - Getting Started is a concise guide designed to quickly get you familiar with using Minitab Statistical Software.
In addition to Minitab 18 - Getting Started, the following tools are available:
A complete Help file is incorporated in Minitab, which provides you with instructions, examples with interpretations, overviews and detailed explanations, troubleshooting tips, formulas, references, and a glossary. Open Help by choosing Help > Help or by clicking on the Help button on every dialog box in the software.
The StatGuide provides statistical guidance after you run a procedure in Minitab. Open the StatGuide by right-clicking on your output in the Session window, then choosing StatGuide.
Step-by-step tutorials help new users learn how to use Minitab. You can open these by choosing Help > Tutorials while using Minitab.
Last, but not least, remember that Minitab provides a support team staffed by professionals with expertise in the software, statistics, quality improvement, and computer systems. Visit the Minitab support web site or call +1-814-231-2682 to speak with Minitab's technical support specialists.