Data manipulation is the process of changing data to make it easier to read or be more organized. For example, a log of data could be organized in alphabetical order, making individual entries easier to locate. Data manipulation is often used on web server logs to allow a website owner to view their most popular pages as well as their traffic sources.
Users in the accounting field or similar fields often manipulate data to figure out product costs, sales trends, or potential tax obligations. Stock market analysts are frequently using data manipulation to predict trends in the stock market and how stocks might perform in the near future.
Computers may also use data manipulation to display information to users in a more meaningful way, based on code in a software program, web page, or data formatting defined by a user.