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

Calculating standard deviation in Excel is a breeze once you get the hang of it. In essence, standard deviation is a measure that tells you how spread out numbers are in a dataset. Excel has a built-in function to calculate this, so you don’t have to crunch the numbers manually. If you follow these steps, you’ll be a standard deviation whiz in no time.

Step by Step Tutorial on How to Do Standard Deviation in Excel

Before diving into the steps, let’s understand what we’re trying to accomplish. Excel’s STDEV.P function helps calculate the standard deviation for an entire population. Conversely, if you’re dealing with a sample, you’ll use the STDEV.S function. These steps will guide you through using both.

Step 1: Enter Your Data

Start by entering your dataset into a column or row in Excel.

Make sure each number in your dataset is in its own cell. It’s crucial to have no empty cells or text within the range of your data, as this can result in errors or incorrect calculations.

Step 2: Click on an Empty Cell

Select an empty cell where you want the standard deviation result to appear.

Keep in mind that the cell you choose should not be part of your data range to avoid overwriting any of your dataset.

Step 3: Type in the Standard Deviation Formula

For a population, type =STDEV.P(), and for a sample, type =STDEV.S(). Ensure you open the parenthesis to prepare for the next step.

Remember not to close the parenthesis just yet. You’ll need to input your data range first.

Step 4: Select Your Data Range

Click and drag your mouse across your dataset to select it, or type the range manually, then close the parenthesis.

Your formula should now look something like =STDEV.P(A1:A10) or =STDEV.S(A1:A10), with A1:A10 being the range of your data.

Step 5: Press Enter

After making sure your formula is correct, hit the Enter key on your keyboard to execute the function.

Voila! The cell you selected in Step 2 should now display the standard deviation of your dataset.

After completing these steps, Excel will display the standard deviation of your dataset in the cell you selected. It’s a simple but powerful way to get a sense of how spread out your data is.

Tips for Doing Standard Deviation in Excel

  • Always double-check your data range to ensure no errors.
  • Use STDEV.P for the entire population and STDEV.S for samples.
  • Avoid including empty cells, text, or non-numeric data in your data range.
  • For large datasets, consider using Excel’s data analysis tools for more robust statistical analysis.
  • Familiarize yourself with Excel’s other statistical functions to enhance your data analysis skills.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I calculate standard deviation if my data is in a row instead of a column?

Yes, standard deviation can be calculated regardless of whether your data is listed in a row or column.

What’s the difference between STDEV.P and STDEV.S?

STDEV.P is used when you’re calculating standard deviation for an entire population, and STDEV.S is for when you’re working with a sample of a larger dataset.

Can I use standard deviation for non-numeric data?

No, standard deviation calculations require numeric data. Non-numeric data will result in errors.

Can Excel calculate standard deviation for multiple datasets at once?

Yes, you can calculate standard deviation for multiple datasets by selecting multiple ranges in the formula.

What should I do if I get an error when calculating standard deviation?

First, check to make sure that your data range is correct and that there are no empty cells or text within the range. If the error persists, consult Excel’s help resources.


  1. Enter your data into Excel.
  2. Click on an empty cell.
  3. Type in the standard deviation formula.
  4. Select your data range.
  5. Press Enter.


Mastering how to do standard deviation in Excel can significantly enhance your data analysis capabilities. Whether you’re a student, a business professional, or someone with a passion for numbers, understanding standard deviation offers insights into the variability of your dataset. Although it may seem daunting at first, with practice, you’ll be able to perform these calculations effortlessly. Remember, Excel is a powerful tool that can handle much more than standard deviation—use it to your advantage. Keep exploring, keep learning, and don’t hesitate to dive deeper into what Excel can offer. After all, knowledge is power, especially when it comes to data!

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