Variance is a statistical measurement that looks at how far numbers are distributed from the average. It’s a tedious manual calculation, but easy to do in a spreadsheet. Let’s learn **how to calculate variance in Microsoft Excel.**

**How to Calculate Variance in Excel**

Excel offers a pair of built-in functions to help to calculate variance. To decide which one to use, you need to know whether you’re working with a sample or population. Let’s look at both.

Imagine you’re working with a table of sample data, and you want to calculate the variance. Since this is sample data, you’ll need to use Excel’s **VAR.S** function. The **S**, of course, stands for **sample.**

To get started, click into any empty cell on your worksheet. Type an **=** sign. This tells Excel that you’re inputting a formula. Then, type in your function for variance of a sample: **VAR.S. **Then, type **(**.

So far, your variance formula should read:

=VAR.S(

Now, it’s time to select the data itself. In this example, it lies in cells **B2:B6.** To make it easy, you can simply click and drag your cursor to select this range. Finally, type ) to complete your formula, which will now read:

=VAR.S(B2:B6)

Hit **Enter** on your keyboard, and Excel will calculate the variance and display it to you in the empty cell where you placed your formula. It’s that simple.

Now, imagine for a moment that this same data represented the entire population, instead of just a sample. Excel can help you here, too. You just need to make a slight change to your formula.

The function to calculate variance for a population in Excel is **VAR.P**, where **P** stands for population. So, if this data was a population, your formula would be:

**=VAR.P(B2:B6).**

As you can see, you change only a single letter. Thanks to Excel, it’s incredibly easy to calculate variance.