How To Add Standard Deviation Bars In Google Sheets

Last Updated on November 3, 2023 by Jake Sheridan

In this tutorial, you will learn how to add standard deviation bars in Google Sheets.

How To Add Standard Deviation Bars In Google Sheets

When working with graphs in Google Sheets, sometimes you’ll want to visualize the standard deviation.

Fortunately, Google Sheets makes it easy to add standard deviation bars to graphs.

Insert a Chart or Graph in Google Sheets

If you don’t already have a chart in your spreadsheet, you’ll have to insert one before adding standard deviation bars. Here’s how:

Step 1

Select the range you want to chart, including a column of labels for your data:

Step 2

Open the Insert menu, and select the Chart option:

Step 3

A new chart will be inserted and can be edited as needed in the Chart Editor sidebar where you can select the chart type. For this tutorial, we’ll use a column chart.

Adding Standard Deviation Bars

Once you have a chart, it’s time to add standard deviation bars:

Step 1

Open the Chart Editor by selecting the chart and clicking on the 3 dot menu icon in the corner.

From the menu, select Edit Chart. The Chart Editor will open:

Step 2

Switch to the Customize tab by clicking the word Customize at the top of the editor.

Step 3

Click on the Series section to expand it:

Step 4

At the bottom of the series section, check the box for Error Bars

Step 5

Select Standard Deviation from the Type dropdown menu and choose the value you want to display for the standard deviation.

Leave the value parameter set to 1 to show error bars with the length of one standard deviation from the mean of all series.

Step 6

Standard Deviation Bars will appear on your graph.

Note that these bars represent the standard deviation for the combined series, not for each individual series.

Increasing Standard Deviation Bar Visibility

Google Sheets does not have the option of formatting any type of error bars directly, and they can be hard to see with the default formatting.

Fortunately, choosing different colors for the series also changes the standard deviation bar colors and can be used to increase their visibility

Step 1

In the Chart Editor, under the customize tab, expand the series chart again

Step 7

Click on the Add button beside Format Data Point

Step 8

Select a series from the Data Point dropdown, then select a Color from the color picker.

You can try a few different colors to see what makes the standard deviation bars more visible

Step 9

Repeat Steps 1-8 till all series are colored


Example Spreadsheet: Make a copy of the example spreadsheet

In this tutorial, I covered how to add standard deviation bars in Google Sheets. Want more? Check out all the Google Sheets Tutorials.