Excel’s forecasting functions help you make predictions about linear data. They’re quick and easy to use. Let’s learn **how to forecast with Microsoft Excel.**

### How to Forecast in Microsoft Excel

Excel’s original **FORECAST** function, now replaced with **FORECAST.LINEAR**, helps you predict values based on trends. For example, let’s consider a list of annual sales. You have data for **2018, 2019,** and **2020,** and you want to predict **2021** and **2022’s** sales.

It’s helpful to work in a table like the one above. You’ll want to place your cursor in Cell **C5** in the **Forecast** column. Hit **=** to begin a formula, then type **FORECAST.LINEAR(.**

Excel asks for three inputs: **X,****known_y’s**, and **known_x’s.****X** is the value you need a prediction for. Here, that will be **2021**, so click into cell **A5,** then type a comma.

The **known-y’s** are dependent values. In this case, those are the sales numbers. Click and drag to select the range **B2:B4.** Type another comma.

So far, your formula is:

=FORECAST.LINEAR(A5,B2:B4,

Finally, you’ll need to find the **known-x’s,** which are the **years**. Click and drag to select the range **A2:A4,** then close the parentheses. Your full forecast formula reads:

=FORECAST.LINEAR(A25,B2:B4,A2:A4)

Hit **Enter**, and you’ll see Excel return 2021’s forecast in cell **C5.**

Now, of course, we also want to find a forecast value for **2022.** This will go into cell **C6.** Now, thanks to Excel, you don’t have to retype the forecast formula or perform repetitive steps.

To run 2022’s forecast, first click into and hover over the corner of cell **C5.** You’ll see a black **+** sign appear. Next, simply click and drag downward into cell **C6.**

The **FORECAST.LINEAR** formula will copy down, adjusting to provide a 2022 forecast.

As you can see, Excel makes it easy to perform forecasts when you have data with a linear trend.