Error Bars in Excel

How to Add Error Bars in Excel? (Step by Step)

Below are the steps to add error bars in excel –

  1. The data is selected, and from the Insert tab, the line graph is selected.


    Errors bar Step 1

  2. Clicking the line graphLine Graphs/Charts in Excels are visuals to track trends or show changes over a given period & they are pretty helpful for forecasting data. They may include 1 line for a single data set or multiple lines to compare different data sets. read moreLine Graphs/Charts in Excels are visuals to track trends or show changes over a given period & they are pretty helpful for forecasting data. They may include 1 line for a single data set or multiple lines to compare different data sets. read more option, we get the following line graph.


    Errors bar Step 2

  3. The error bars option can be found under the layout tab under the analysis group. The following screenshot shows the same.


    Errors bar Step 3

  4. There are various error bars options available.


    Errors bar Step 4

  5. Error bars with standard error. Standard error, i.e., SE, is basically the standard deviation of a sampling distribution. The magnitude of SE helps in giving an index of the precision of the estimate of the parameter. The standard error is inversely proportional to the size of the sample. This means that the smaller the sample sizeThe sample size formula depicts the relevant population range on which an experiment or survey is conducted. It is measured using the population size, the critical value of normal distribution at the required confidence level, sample proportion and margin of error.read moreThe sample size formula depicts the relevant population range on which an experiment or survey is conducted. It is measured using the population size, the critical value of normal distribution at the required confidence level, sample proportion and margin of error.read more, it tends to produce greater standard errors.


    Errors bar Step 5

    In the below screenshot, the error bars with standard error is given. All the data points in the series display the amount of error in the same height for Y error bars and the same width for X error bars.

    Errors bar Step 5-1

    From the below screenshot, it can be seen that the straight line is drawn from the minimum of the maximum value, i.e., Red Maple overlaps with the outermost value of the species Black Maple. This signifies that the data for one group is not different from the other.

    Errors bar Step 5-2

  6. Error bars with the percentage


    It uses the percentage that is specified in the percentage box for calculating the error amount for each data as a percentage of the value of that particular data point. The Y error bars and X error bars are based on a percentage of the value of the data points and vary in size as per the percentage value. By default, the percentage is taken as 5%.

    Errors bar Step 6

    Errors bar Step 6-1

    The default 5% value can be seen from the More data bars options given in the screenshot below.

    Errors bar Step 6-2

    Errors bar Step 6-3

  7. Error bars with the standard deviation


    Error Bars with the Standard deviation is the average difference between the data points and their mean. Usually, a one-point standard deviation is taken into consideration while creating the error bars. The standard deviation is used when the data is normally distributedNormally DistributedNormal Distribution is a bell-shaped frequency distribution curve which helps describe all the possible values a random variable can take within a given range with most of the distribution area is in the middle and few are in the tails, at the extremes. This distribution has two key parameters: the mean (µ) and the standard deviation (σ) which plays a key role in assets return calculation and in risk management strategy.read more and the pointers are usually equidistant to each other.

    Errors bar Step 7

    A line is drawn on the maximum data point, i.e., Red maple coincides with the maximum error point of black maple. This signifies that the data for one group is not different from the other.

    Errors bar Step 7-1

How to Add Custom Error Bars in Excel?

Apart from the three error bars, i.e., error bars with standard error, error bars with standard deviation, and error bars with percentage, custom error bars can also be made.

Custom Bars 1

The minus display basically is the error to the lower side of the actual value. Just click on the minus tab.

Custom Bars 2
Custom Bars 3

Similar to minus, the plus can also be taken, which represents the error to the upper side of the actual value. Just click on the plus tab.

Custom Bars 4
Custom Bars 5

We can also visualize the error bars without the cap. In the vertical error bars tab, we need to click or select direction as both an end style as no cap.

Custom Bars 6
Custom Bars 7
You can download this Error Bars Excel Template here – Error Bars Excel Template

Things to Remember

  1. The error bars in excel is the graphical representation that helps in visualizing the variability of data given on a two-dimensional framework.
  2. It helps in indicating the estimated error or uncertainty for giving a general sense of how accurate a measurement is.
  3. The accuracy is understood by the marker drawn over the original graph and its data points.
  4. The excel error bars are used to display with the standard error, standard deviation, or with the percentage value.
  5. Error bars usually by drawing cap-tipped lines extending from the center of the plotted data point.
  6. The length of the error bars usually helps in revealing the uncertainty of a data point.
  7. Depending on the length of the error bars, the error can be estimated. A short error bar shows that the values are more concentrated directing that the average value that is plotted is more likely to be reliable. Along the error bar, on the other hand, indicate that the values are more spread out and are less likely to be reliable.
  8. Error bars can be customized through more error bars option.
  9. In the case of skewed data, the length on each side of the error bars would be unbalanced.
  10. The error bars usually run parallel to the quantitative scale axis. This means that the error bars can be visualized either horizontally or vertically depending on whether the quantitative scale is on the X-axis or on the Y-axis.

Recommended Articles

This has been a guide to Error Bars in Excel. Here we discuss how to Add Error Bars in Excel (standard, with standard deviation, percentage error, and Custom error bars) along with practical examples and a downloadable excel template. You may learn more about excel from the following articles –

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