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About How to Data


How to Data is a free, online reference site targeted primarily at analytics and data science students. It’s organized around statistical and data-related tasks and shows their implementation in a wide variety of software packages.


The website began at Bentley University and is initially targeted at the needs of students and faculty at that institution. It includes pages that organize the content around Bentley’s curriculum.

But new content from other schools and businesses is always welcome, including new ways to organize existing content to better suit your organization’s needs. We aim for this resource to be as broadly useful as possible.

We aim for the site to cover all the tasks useful to students in the data-related courses of study at Bentley (e.g., the Data Analytics major), and show how to accomplish those tasks in several common software packages and programming languages. But the site is just beginning, and does not yet cover every data-related course at Bentley.


The website was begun in Summer 2021 by Nathan Carter (a faculty member in Bentley’s Mathematical Sciences Department), with help from some other faculty and students.

Aren’t there websites like this already?

Not really. Here’s what I’ve seen, and why it’s not exactly what How to Data is designed to accomplish.

  • Software documentation
    • Example: the pandas manual
    • Documentation is specific to one piece of software; How to Data aims to show how each task is solved in many different pieces of software.
    • Software documentation is not organized around the courses students are taking.
  • Q&A sites
    • Example: Stack Overflow
    • While an invaluable resource, such sites can have overly specific questions that don’t always teach a general lesson in a didactic way.
    • They are also not organized around a student’s coursework.
  • Interactive online lessons
    • Example: DataCamp
    • These are excellent tools for a flipped classroom or individual study, but are not excellent references; they expect you to take your own notes.
    • They also typically have paywalls to support their business model.
  • Existing academic references
    • Example: UCLA’s data analysis examples and annotated output
    • That website has very similar goals to How to Data, with one major exception—the lessons on that website are lengthy, while ours aim to be very bite-sized, answering one specific question with a short snippet of code that it’s easy to take and re-use. They’re aiming more to teach, while we’re aiming to get you the code or steps you need to do a task.

Why the funny name?

The Internet spawns many strange and amusing new ways to speak and write. One example innovation is using the words “how to” followed by a noun. Examples include online images of dogs, captioned with the phrase “I forgot how to dog”, or the book How to College.

How to Data follows this pattern.