How to Add Standard Deviation Bars in Excel: A Step-by-Step Guide

Adding standard deviation bars in Excel is a handy way to visually represent the variability of your data. Essentially, these bars show how much your data points deviate from the average, giving you a clearer picture of the distribution. This tutorial will guide you through the process step-by-step to make the task straightforward and efficient.

Adding Standard Deviation Bars in Excel

This section will walk you through adding standard deviation bars to a chart in Excel. You’ll learn to first create a chart and then incorporate the standard deviation bars into it.

Step 1: Open Excel and Input Your Data

First, open Excel and enter your data into a new spreadsheet.

Ensure your data is organized neatly with headers, as this will make the process smoother. You should have your different categories listed along with their corresponding values.

Step 2: Create a Chart

Select your data, then go to the "Insert" tab and choose the type of chart you want to use.

Bar charts or line charts work well for this purpose. Excel will generate a chart based on your selected data.

Step 3: Add Error Bars

Click on the chart to select it, then click the "Chart Elements" button (the plus icon) and check the "Error Bars" option.

You may need to choose the dropdown arrow next to "Error Bars" and select "More Options" to customize them further.

Step 4: Customize Error Bars

In the error bars options, choose "Standard Deviation" and configure any additional settings to match your preferences.

You can also specify whether you want the standard deviation bars to show in both directions or just one.

Step 5: Finalize Your Chart

Review your chart to ensure the standard deviation bars represent your data accurately. Save your work.

Make any necessary adjustments to the chart design or data range if needed.

After you complete these steps, you will have a chart in Excel that includes standard deviation bars, providing a clear visual representation of data variability.

Tips for Adding Standard Deviation Bars in Excel

  • Always double-check your data for accuracy before creating the chart.
  • Choose the appropriate chart type that best represents your data.
  • Use the "More Options" feature to customize the error bars to fit your data needs.
  • Save your work periodically to avoid losing any changes.
  • Utilize Excel’s “Help” feature if you encounter any difficulties or need further clarification.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are standard deviation bars used for?

Standard deviation bars help visualize the variability or dispersion of your data, showing how much individual data points differ from the mean.

Can I add standard deviation bars to any type of chart?

Standard deviation bars can be added to most types of charts in Excel, but they are commonly used with bar, line, and scatter charts.

How do I remove standard deviation bars if I no longer need them?

Click on the chart to select it, click the "Chart Elements" button, and uncheck the "Error Bars" option.

Can I customize the color and style of the standard deviation bars?

Yes, you can customize the error bars’ appearance by right-clicking on them and selecting "Format Error Bars."

Do I need a specific version of Excel to add standard deviation bars?

Most versions of Excel, including Excel 2013 and later, support adding standard deviation bars.


  1. Open Excel and input your data.
  2. Create a chart.
  3. Add error bars.
  4. Customize error bars.
  5. Finalize your chart.


Adding standard deviation bars in Excel is a simple yet powerful way to enhance your data visualization. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can easily add these bars to your charts, making your data analysis more meaningful and comprehensive.

Remember, the key is to ensure your data is accurate and to choose the right chart type. With practice, you’ll become proficient at customizing and using standard deviation bars, ultimately leading to improved data insights.

For more advanced techniques and tips, consider exploring other Excel features that complement standard deviation bars. Happy charting!

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