Article abstract

Nature Protocols 5, 267 - 281 (2010)
Published online: 28 January 2010 | doi:10.1038/nprot.2009.182

Subject Category: Computational and theoretical biology

Nonlinear least-squares data fitting in Excel spreadsheets

Gerdi Kemmer1 & Sandro Keller1

We describe an intuitive and rapid procedure for analyzing experimental data by nonlinear least-squares fitting (NLSF) in the most widely used spreadsheet program. Experimental data in x/y form and data calculated from a regression equation are inputted and plotted in a Microsoft Excel worksheet, and the sum of squared residuals is computed and minimized using the Solver add-in to obtain the set of parameter values that best describes the experimental data. The confidence of best-fit values is then visualized and assessed in a generally applicable and easily comprehensible way. Every user familiar with the most basic functions of Excel will be able to implement this protocol, without previous experience in data fitting or programming and without additional costs for specialist software. The application of this tool is exemplified using the well-known Michaelis–Menten equation characterizing simple enzyme kinetics. Only slight modifications are required to adapt the protocol to virtually any other kind of dataset or regression equation. The entire protocol takes ~1 h.

  1. Leibniz Institute of Molecular Pharmacology FMP, Berlin, Germany.

Correspondence to: Sandro Keller1 e-mail: