How to Calculate the Median in Excel

By Carol Finch

The median is the middle number in a range of numbers. If you have data in an Excel 2013 workbook, you can use a simple formula to calculate the median. This may be easier and more accurate than trying to work it out manually, especially if you are dealing with a large set of numbers.

Step 1

Open a new worksheet in Excel. Click on the first cell in the first column and type the number "1" (without the quotation marks) into the cell.

Step 2

Click on the cell below or press "Enter" on your keyboard to go to it automatically. Type "2" (without the quotation marks) in this cell. Repeat the process until you have numbers 1 through 5 in cells A1 through A5 in the column.

Step 3

Click on an empty cell where you want the median calculation to appear. This cell can be directly under your list of numbers or anywhere else on the sheet.

Step 4

Type "=MEDIAN(A1:A5)" (without the quotation marks) into the cell. This tells Excel to calculate the median across your range of cell numbers. Press the "Enter" key and you should see the median number appear in the cell designated in Step Three.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you want to change the range of cells in a median calculation, you can edit the formula by double-clicking on the cell. Alternatively, click the cell once, go to the formula bar at the top of the sheet and edit it there.
  • Although it may be easier for you to enter data in ascending order, you do not have to do so. Excel can sort data for you when you use the median calculation.
  • The median formula is typically expressed in capital letters; it still works if you use lowercase letters.
  • The median is the middle number in a range of numbers -- it calculates the mid-point in the range. This is not the same as the mean, which calculates the average of all numbers, or the mode, which shows the number that occurs most often. You can use the same formula construction to calculate mean and mode in Excel by replacing the word "median" with "average" or "mode" in the formula.
  • If you have an even set of numbers in your range, you do not have one middle number. In this instance, Excel calculates the middle number by averaging the two numbers in the middle of the set.