How to Create a Standard Deviation Graph in Excel

Standard deviation is a common statistical calculation used to determine how much the individual samples in a data set vary from the mean (or average) of the data. You can use Microsoft Excel to create a chart that visually displays the standard deviation of your data using error bars.

Step

Enter all the samples from each data series into a separate row (if you have a single series of data, enter all your data into a single row).

A data set with 10 data series, with 7 samples per series.
A data set with 10 data series, with 7 samples per series
The Excel AVERAGE() formula calculates the mean.
The Excel AVERAGE() formula calculates the mean

Step

Add a formula to calculate the average for the first row of data.

The Excel STDEV() formula calculates the standard deviation.
The Excel STDEV() formula calculates the standard deviation

Step

Add a formula to calculate the standard deviation for the first row of data.

Select both formula cells, click on the bottom right corner of the second cell, drag it down to highlight all the cells and release the mouse button.
Select both formula cells, click on the bottom right corner of the second cell, drag it down to highlight all the cells and release the mouse button

Step

Copy the mean and standard deviation cells for the first row of data into the cells next to all the other data rows.

The Line with Markers chart option.
The Line with Markers chart option

Step

Click on the Insert tab on the Office Ribbon, then click Line in the Charts section of the ribbon, then click the Line with Markers icon.

Selecting Series1 in the chart.
Selecting Series1 in the chart

Step

Click on the empty white space in the chart to select the chart.

Step

Click on the Format tab in the Chart Tools area of the Office Ribbon.

Step

Click on the chart selection menu in the Current Selection section of the Office Ribbon and select Series1 from the menu.

The More Error Bars Options... selection.
The More Error Bars Options... selection

Step

Click the Layout tab in the Chart Tools area of the Office Ribbon.

Step

Click the Error Bars icon in the Analysis section of the Office Ribbon.

Step

Click More Error Bars Options... in the Error Bars menu.

Selections in the Format Error Bars dialog box.
Selections in the Format Error Bars dialog box

Step

Set the Direction in the Display section to Both.

Step

Click Custom: in the Error Amount section.

Step

Click the Specify Value button.

Use the range selection button.
The range selection button

Step

Click the range selection button on the Positive Error Value field.

Step

Select all the cells in your worksheet containing standard deviation calculations.

Step

Press the Enter key.

Step

Repeat the range selection for the Negative Error Value field, again selecting all the cells in your worksheet containing standard deviation calculations.

Step

Press the OK button to close the Custom Error Bars dialog box, then press the OK button to close the Format Error Bars dialog box.

Step

Click outside the chart to deselect the chart series.