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How to add error bars in Excel: standard and custom

The tutorial shows how to make and use error bars in Excel. You will learn how to quickly insert standard error bars, create your own ones, and even make error bars of different size that show your own calculated standard deviation for each individual data point.

Many of us are uncomfortable with uncertainty because it is often associated with lack of data, ineffective methods or wrong research approach. In truth, uncertainty is not a bad thing. In business, it prepares your company for the future. In medicine, it generates innovations and leads to technological breakthroughs. In science, uncertainty is the beginning of an investigation. And because scientists love quantifying things, they found a way to quantify uncertainty. For this, they calculate confidence intervals, or margins of error, and display them by using what is known as error bars.

How to add error bars in Excel 2013, 2016 and 2019
How to graph error bars in Excel 2010 and 2007
Adding custom error bars in Excel
How to insert horizontal error bars
How to put error bars for a specific data series
How to customize error bars
How to make individual error bars of different lengths
How to delete error bars
Error bars in Excel
Error bars in Excel charts are a useful tool to represent data variability and measurement accuracy. In other words, error bars can show you how far from the reported values the actual values might be.

In Microsoft Excel, error bars can be inserted in 2-D bar, column, line and area graph, XY (scatter) plot, and bubble chart. In scatter plots and bubble charts, both vertical and horizontal error bars can be displayed.

You can put error bars as a standard error, percentage, fixed value, or standard deviation. You can also set your own error amount and even supply an individual value for each error bar.
Error bars in Excel

How to add error bars in Excel
In Excel 2019, Excel 2016, and Excel 2013, inserting error bars is quick and straightforward:

Click anywhere in your graph.
Click the Chart Elements button to the right of the chart.
Click the arrow next to Error Bars and pick the desired option:
Standard Error – displays the standard error of the mean for all values, which shows how far the sample mean is likely to be from the population mean.
Percentage – adds error bars with the default 5% value, but you can set your own percentage by choosing More Options.
Standard Deviation – shows the amount of variability of the data, i.e. how close it is to the average. By default, the bars are graphed with 1 standard deviation for all data points.
More Options… – allows specifying your own error bar amounts and creating custom error bars.
Adding error bars in Excel

Picking More Options opens the Format Error Bars pane where you can:

Set your own amounts for fixed value, percentage and standard deviation error bars.
Choose the direction (positive, negative, or both) and end style (cap, no cap).
Make custom error bars based on your own values.
Change the appearance of error bars.
As an example, let’s add 10 % error bars to our chart. For this, select Percentage and type 10 in the entry box:
A chart with custom percent error bars

Tips
To add standard error bars in Excel, you can simply select the Error Bars box without picking any option. The standard error bars will be inserted by default.
To customize the existing error bars, double-click them in the chart. This will open the Format Error Bars pane, where and you change error bars type, choose another color and do other customizations.
How to do error bars in Excel 2010 and 2007
In earlier versions of Excel, the path to error bars is different. To add error bars in Excel 2010 and 2007, this is what you need to do:

Click anywhere in the chart to activate Chart Tools on the ribbon.
On the Layout tab, in the Analysis group, click Error Bars and choose one of the following options:
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