Standard deviation helps you measure how much variability your data has. It’s easy to calculate using a spreadsheet. Let’s learn how to find standard deviation in Microsoft Excel.
How to Find Standard Deviation in Excel
Standard deviation looks at how your values are distributed around the mean of your dataset. You can find it two different ways in Excel. The difference comes when you’re working with either a sample or an entire population.
Consider a table of sample data. This is understood to not represent an entire population. That means you’ll want to use Excel’s STDEV.S function. The S stands for a sample. If you have an entire population of data, use the STDEV.P function. The remainder of the process is identical.
To find the standard deviation in Excel for this dataset, begin by clicking into an empty cell. Type =, which tells Excel to begin a formula. Next, type STDEV.S, and then (.
So far, your formula reads:
Now, it’s time to select the range of data. All you’ll need is the numerical data, which is in column B in this example. Labels, column headers, and other details aren’t needed and shouldn’t be included.
Click and drag your cursor to highlight the range of data. Here, that’s B2:B6. Once you’ve done that, close the parentheses by typing ). Your entire standard deviation formula in Excel now reads:
Hit Enter, and Excel will return the standard deviation value in the cell you selected.
Remember when we talked about the standard deviation of a population? Imagine for a moment that this same dataset represented the entire population, not just a sample of it. As mentioned, your formula would vary only by one character:
P, of course, refers to the population, while S referred to a sample.
As you can see, it’s easy to find standard deviation in Excel.