How to Create a Standard Deviation Graph in Excel

By John Michael Thomas

You can use Microsoft Excel to create a chart that visually displays the standard deviation of a data set using error bars.

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 1

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).

Step 2

The Excel AVERAGE() formula calculates the mean.

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

The Excel STDEV() formula calculates the standard deviation.

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.

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

Step 3

The Line with Markers chart option.

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.

Tip

You will need to select the cells with the standard deviation calculations later, so move the chart to make sure it doesn't cover any of the cells in the standard deviation column.

Step 4

Selecting Series1 in the chart.

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

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

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

Step 5

The More Error Bars Options... selection.

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

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

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

Tip

Move the Format Error Bars dialog box so it doesn't cover any of the cells containing the standard deviation calculations.

Selections in the Format Error Bars dialog box.

Set the Direction in the Display section to Both.

Click Custom: in the Error Amount section.

Click the Specify Value button.

Use the range selection button.

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

Select the standard deviation calculation cells in the worksheet.

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

Press the Enter key.

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

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.

Click outside the chart to deselect the chart series.

The chart displays an error bar twice the height of the standard deviation for each mean value in the chart.