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

Adding standard deviation bars to your Google Sheets graphs is a handy way to visually represent the variability of your data. In just a few clicks, you can add these bars to your charts, making your data analysis that much clearer. Let’s dive into how to add these insightful indicators to your graphs.

Step by Step Tutorial: Adding Standard Deviation Bars in Google Sheets

Before adding standard deviation bars, it’s important to understand that these bars will reflect the range of data around the mean of your dataset. They are a graphical representation of the variability within your data.

Step 1: Select Your Data

First, highlight the data you’d like to include in your chart.

Selecting your data correctly is crucial because it determines the information that will be displayed on your graph. Make sure to include the rows and columns that contain the data points you want to analyze.

Step 2: Insert a Chart

Click on the ‘Insert’ menu and select ‘Chart’ to add a new chart to your sheet.

Choosing the right type of chart is important. For standard deviation bars, a column, line, or scatter chart often works best.

Step 3: Open Chart Editor

Click on the chart you’ve just created to bring up the Chart Editor on the right-hand side of your screen.

The Chart Editor is where you’ll be able to customize your chart and add the standard deviation bars.

Step 4: Add Error Bars

In the Chart Editor, go to the ‘Customize’ tab and scroll down to ‘Series’. Here, you’ll find the option to add error bars.

Error bars can be used to represent standard deviation, standard error, or a custom value that you specify.

Step 5: Choose Error Type

In the ‘Error bars’ section, select ‘Standard deviation’ from the drop-down menu.

By selecting ‘Standard deviation’, Google Sheets will automatically calculate the standard deviation of your data and apply it to your chart.

Step 6: Customize Error Bars

Customize the appearance of your error bars by adjusting the color, thickness, and transparency as desired.

Personalizing your error bars can help them stand out on the chart, making your data’s variability even clearer to your audience.

After completing these steps, you’ll have a graph with standard deviation bars that clearly showcase the spread of your data. This visual cue can be incredibly useful when presenting your findings to others, providing a clear picture of the data’s variability.

Tips for Adding Standard Deviation Bars in Google Sheets

  • Always double-check your data selection to ensure accuracy in your graph.
  • Experiment with different types of charts to see which one best represents your data with standard deviation bars.
  • Use contrasting colors for your error bars to make them stand out from the rest of the chart.
  • Consider the scale of your graph, as overly large or small standard deviation bars can be misleading.
  • Familiarize yourself with what standard deviation represents, so you can accurately interpret and explain the data represented by the error bars.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is standard deviation?

Standard deviation is a measure of the amount of variation or dispersion of a set of values. It shows how much the individual data points differ from the mean (average) value.

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

While you can add error bars to most chart types in Google Sheets, they are typically most meaningful on column, line, or scatter charts.

How does Google Sheets calculate standard deviation for the error bars?

Google Sheets uses the standard deviation formula based on the dataset you’ve selected for your chart. It calculates this automatically when you choose ‘Standard deviation’ as your error type.

Can I customize the appearance of my standard deviation bars?

Yes, you can change the color, thickness, and transparency of your standard deviation bars in the Chart Editor under the ‘Customize’ tab.

What if my data doesn’t have a standard deviation?

If your data is uniform, meaning all values are the same, the standard deviation would be zero, and adding standard deviation bars would not be meaningful.


  1. Select your data.
  2. Insert a chart.
  3. Open Chart Editor.
  4. Add error bars.
  5. Choose error type as ‘Standard deviation’.
  6. Customize error bars.


Adding standard deviation bars in Google Sheets is a straightforward process that can significantly enhance the analysis and presentation of your data. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can easily incorporate these informative visual cues into your graphs. Remember, standard deviation bars can help both you and your audience to understand the consistency of data points and make more informed decisions based on the data’s variability.

Furthermore, don’t shy away from exploring different customization options to make your graph as clear and impactful as possible. And if you ever feel stuck, go back to our tips or FAQ section for a quick refresher. With these tools at your disposal, you’ll be mastering the art of data visualization with Google Sheets in no time. So go ahead, give it a try and watch your data come to life!

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