How to Add Error Bars in Google Sheets: A Step-by-Step Guide

Adding error bars in Google Sheets can seem daunting, but it’s actually a straightforward process. By following a few simple steps, you can visualize the variability of your data and make your charts more informative. In just a few minutes, you’ll be able to add error bars to any chart in Google Sheets, helping you better represent the accuracy and reliability of your data.

Step by Step Tutorial: Adding Error Bars in Google Sheets

Before we dive into the steps, let’s talk about what we’re going to do. Adding error bars is a way to show the uncertainty or variability of your data. It’s a visual tool that helps others understand the reliability of your information. Let’s get started!

Step 1: Select Your Data

Click and drag to highlight the data you want to use in your chart.

Selecting your data is the first step in any chart creation process. Make sure you include all the relevant data points that you want to represent with error bars.

Step 2: Insert a Chart

Go to the menu bar and click on “Insert,” then select “Chart.”

Google Sheets will automatically suggest a chart type based on your data. You can change the chart type later if necessary.

Step 3: Choose the Correct Chart Type

Click on the “Chart editor” and select a chart type that supports error bars, such as a scatter plot or line chart.

Not all chart types support error bars, so it’s important to choose the right one. Scatter plots and line charts are common choices for visualizing error.

Step 4: Add Error Bars

In the “Chart editor,” navigate to the “Customize” tab, and scroll down to “Series.” Find and click on “Error bars” and then select the type of error data you want to represent.

You can choose to add a constant error, a percentage, or custom values from a range in your sheet. This allows you to customize your error bars to best represent your data.

Step 5: Customize Your Error Bars

Adjust the settings to change the color, thickness, and style of your error bars to make them stand out or blend in as you see fit.

Customizing your error bars can help you make your chart clearer and more visually appealing. Feel free to experiment with different styles to see which works best for your data.

After completing these steps, your chart will now have error bars that represent the variability or uncertainty of your data. This can help viewers better understand the precision of your data and make more informed decisions based on your chart.

Tips for Adding Error Bars in Google Sheets

  • Always double-check which data range you’ve selected for your error bars to ensure accuracy.
  • Remember not to overcrowd your chart; too many error bars can make it hard to read.
  • Use contrasting colors for your error bars to distinguish them from the data points.
  • If your data points represent averages, error bars can show the range of values that contribute to those averages.
  • Be mindful of the scale of your error bars. If they’re too big or too small, they might misrepresent the actual variability in your data.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are error bars?

Error bars are graphical representations of the variability or uncertainty in a data set.

Can I add error bars to a bar chart?

Yes, you can add error bars to bar charts in Google Sheets.

What does it mean if the error bars are long?

Long error bars indicate a higher degree of variability or uncertainty in the data points.

Can I use custom values for my error bars?

Yes, Google Sheets allows you to use a range of values from your sheet to create custom error bars.

How can error bars help in data analysis?

Error bars provide a visual representation of the precision of your data and help identify trends or outliers.


  1. Select your data.
  2. Insert a chart.
  3. Choose the correct chart type.
  4. Add error bars.
  5. Customize your error bars.


Error bars are an essential tool for anyone looking to present data in a clear and informative manner. By adding error bars in Google Sheets, you can illustrate the reliability and variability of your data, allowing viewers to make better-informed decisions. Remember, the key is to select the correct chart type and customize your error bars to best fit your data set. Whether you’re a student, researcher, or business analyst, mastering how to add error bars will certainly elevate the quality of your charts and enhance your data analysis skills. So go ahead, give it a try, and see how error bars can provide deeper insights into your data!

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