How to Add Error Bars in Microsoft Excel?

The error bars in excel are graphical representations of the variability of the data plotted on a graph. They are used to give the general idea about how precise a measurement is in the data. A chart that provides information is much better for a presentation than some random numbers. Users that are not familiar with graphs in excel will not know about how to add error bars in Microsoft Excel. In this article, we will focus on how to add error bars and how to modify them for different use.

Error bars in Microsoft Excel

Adding Error Bars in Microsoft Excel

The error bars in excel can be applied to the scatter plot, dot plot, bar chart, or line graphs. The error bars help in providing an additional layer of detail on the presented data which shows the precision of measurement. By default, the error bars will show the standard error on the graph. Users can also use error bars for percentage, standard deviation, and for a specific value. There is also a menu for format error bars where you can easily change the colors, shape, direction, and much more for your error bars. Follow the below steps to add error bars to your chart in Microsoft Excel:

  1. Open the Microsoft Excel program and create a new Blank Workbook. You can also open the existing file from your system.
  2. Insert the correct data in Sheets for which you want to create the error bars. Highlight the data and click on the Insert tab at the top. Now click on the Insert Column or Bar Chart icon and choose the graph you want.
    Note: If the data is not correct the error bars will not be represented properly.

    Highlight data and add a chart
  3. Click on the Chart Elements (plus sign) next to the chart and check the Error Bars option on the list. This will show the Standard Error bars in your chart which indicates the standard error for all the values in the dataset.
    Adding the error bars
  4. You can also click the small arrow icon next to Error Bars and select Percentage option. This option will determine a percentage error range and error amount for each value.
    Percentage option for error bars
  5. There is also a Standard Deviation option available in the list of Error Bars which will display a standard deviation for all values.
    Standard deviation option for error bars
  6. You can also click on the More Options and that will open the Format Error Bars menu on the right side. In this menu, you can easily modify the style of error bars and the error amounts for the bars.
    More options to format error bars
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Kevin Arrows


Kevin is a dynamic and self-motivated information technology professional, with a Thorough knowledge of all facets pertaining to network infrastructure design, implementation and administration. Superior record of delivering simultaneous large-scale mission critical projects on time and under budget.
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