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A friend of mine asked me on how to do it in excel, and after playing with it a bit (and googling it) I gave up.

Does any one have a suggestion on how it might be done?

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4 Answers 4

up vote 6 down vote accepted

This web page ("Forest plots : Introduction and explanation") explains how to draw simple forest plots in MS-Excel.

Is your friend conducting a meta-analysis? In that case s/he might be interested in the following two pages:

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Thanks for the links Bernd. The first link I found by myself but was not able to reproduce the example. The other links might be worthwhile exploring - thanks. –  Tal Galili Sep 12 '11 at 8:22

Excel gets a bad rap (I suspect because of those horrible 3d graphs and inappropriate pie charts), but this is fairly easily accomplished in Excel charts. It simply takes knowing how to arrange elements on the chart.

This example by Jon Peltier on how to make box plots in Excel can be very easily adapted to forest plots. In fact he has a free utility to make error bars, although doing it yourself is not all that difficult.

If you plan on doing work in Excel and that involves making charts, it would do everyone good to peruse the work on Jon's blog.

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Never knew about this - thank you... –  Tal Galili Sep 14 '11 at 6:23

Or alternately Forest Plot Viewer http://ntp.niehs.nih.gov/index.cfm?objectid=52A197EE-F1F6-975E-7D16E68BE5E723A5 , which while being a stand-alone program is free, and probably less stress than wrestling with Excel.

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Not the answer to the question - but still a good answer: +1 –  Tal Galili Sep 12 '11 at 8:23
Thanks :) The hope was indeed to provide resources for the future, as the question seemed to be answered already. –  Fomite Sep 12 '11 at 8:26

I had the same question a while back and ended up writing a article explaining some of it. Hope it helps!


Here is the sample Excel file from the article with the forest plot.

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