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adding error bars in excelNo one wants to be wrong.  In fact, if we had the ability to be perfect all the time, we would.  But the truth is, many complicated tasks require the use of helpful tools to get us as close to that point of perfection with the least amount of error as possible. Running a successful business can be especially dependent on the information organized and synthesized by such tools. Once you’ve effortlessly become familiar with Excel through one of our online courses, such as the Excel Training Course for all skill levels, you will have working knowledge of the valuable features of the world’s most popular business software. One such feature includes adding error bars to any excel generated chart, a skill guaranteed to boost any Excel user’s confidence in the data provided for that particular chart.   

Error bars show potential error or degree of uncertainty relative to each data market in a series.

They allow you to quickly see any standard deviations or margins of error on your chart.  Excel allows you to show them as a standard error amount, a standard deviation or a percentage as well as determine the specific error amounts to be displayed.  You can use error bars in 2-D area, bar, column, line, xy (scatter), and bubble charts. In scatter and bubble charts, you can show error bars for x and y values.

Simply follow these rules to add error bars:

1.    Select a data series, Excel displays the Chart Tools, adding the Design and Format tabs:

The Chart Tools in Excel 2013

2.    On the Design tab, in the Chart Layouts group, click the Add Chart Element icon and choose Error Bars list:Add Chart Element in Excel 2013

Excel offers several error bars. However, you can also use More Error Bars Options…. If necessary, you can fine-tune the error bar settings from the Format Error Bars task pane:

Format Error Bars Options in Excel 201

In the Format Error Bars task pane you can choose:

The direction of the error bars depends on the type of chart you’re using. Scatter charts can show both horizontal and vertical error bars. You can remove either of these error bars by selecting them, and then pressing Delete.

The ease with which our tutorials provide students with all the necessary information enables our students to efficiently and effectively get the most out of Excel, the world’s most popular software for any kind of business.

For more wonderfully useful information on Excel, be sure to read Excel Tips and Tricks: Use Excel Like a Pro and also enroll in the valuable courses below!

Page Last Updated: March 2014

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