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How to Calculate Standard Deviation in Google Sheets (Step-by-Step)

Are you fed up with manually crunching numbers to calculate Standard Deviation, and you’re looking for something game-changing that makes your job easy? Well, today is your lucky day as we have put together an amazing guide that will teach you everything you need to know about how to calculate Standard Deviation in Google Sheets. 

After reading today’s guide, you can finally kiss goodbye to hectic calculations and say hello to more accurate, efficient, and seamless data analysis with Google Sheets. Let’s dive right in, shall we? 

Related Post: How to type Standard Deviation symbol on the Keyboard

What is Standard Deviation?

Standard deviation is a measure of the spread of a data set. It typically tells you how far a data point deviates from the mean. A lower standard deviation shows that the data point is closer to the mean. On the flip side, a higher standard deviation indicates that the data points are more spread out. 

For example, suppose you have a class of 70 students, along with their math exam scores. Also, let’s say the mean score is 70 while the Standard Deviation is 10; what it means is that most of your students’ score is between +/- 10 range from the mean (i.e., most students scored between 60 and 80)

To put things simply, while the mean provides a value that encapsulates the entire data, the Standard Deviation, on the other hand, shows how far the data set is from the mean. 

The standard deviation is typically calculated by finding the square root of the variance. 

Find it confusing? Well, the good thing is you don’t have to worry about all the technicalities, especially since you are only interested in calculating Standard Deviation in Google Sheets. Plus, Google Sheets has a built-in formula for calculating Standard Deviation, so you won’t have to crack your head to figure everything out. 

Read on as we explore practical ways to calculate Standard Deviation in Google sheets. 

If you don’t have data to work with, click the above button to open our sample data in Google sheets. Once it is open, go to File > Make a copy to create a duplicate for your own use.


Standard Deviation formula in Google Sheets

If there is anything we love about using Google Sheets to calculate Standard Deviation, it is the fact that it provides you with the requisite tool to make the entire process easy. Thanks to the STDEV function available on Google Sheets, you can calculate Standard Deviation in Google Sheets within a few minutes, and we aren’t bluffing. 

As a matter of fact, you don’t need to be a statistical genius or know any formula to calculate Standard Deviation in Google Sheets. 

For those who are interested in knowing what the Standard Deviation formula looks like in Google Sheets, here is a syntax that represents it: 

=STDEV(arguments)

When it comes to arguments, there are four specific types. Here, check them out: 

  • A set of value
  • A range of location
  • A blend of value and location ranges 
  • A filtered set of values

Keep in mind that you’ll need at least 2 values in the arguments for the Standard Deviation formula to work. 

How to use the STDEV formula to calculate Standard Deviation in Google Sheets 

Having provided you with a background of what Standard Deviation is and its brief overview in Google Sheets, we want to take things further by showing you some examples of how you can use the STDEV formula to calculate Standard Deviation in Google Sheets. 

For the purpose of this guide, we have put together the scores of ten students in three different subjects in a spreadsheet. While we intend to calculate the Standard Deviation for these subjects, we also want to find out which subject has more uniform marks. Let’s jump right in, shall we? 

  • Start by choosing the cell where you want to show the Standard Deviation. For our example, we are going to use cell B12. 
  • Now, in the formula bar, enter the following formula:

=STDEV(B2:B11)

  • By entering this formula, you’re authorizing the STDEV function to calculate the standard variation of the scores in cells B2 to B11. 
  • Finally, press enter and Google Sheets will automatically calculate the Standard Deviation for that column. 

Remember that the process detailed above is to find the Standard Deviation for values in Cells B2 to B11 (which represents the scores of 10 students in Chemistry.) To find the Standard Deviation for other subjects, we will need to repeat the process for the different cells. 

So to calculate the Standard Deviation for values in Cell C and D, we need to change the formula to =STDEV(C2:C11) and =STDEV(D2:D11), respectively. 

Calculating Standard deviation in Google sheets

A close look at the image above shows the Standard Deviation for each subject. And as we mentioned right from the get-go, a small number typically represents a clustered data set. On the flip side, a larger number represents a dispersed data set. 

Looking at the result of the Standard Deviation generated in our example, you can see that the students are more or less on the same level in Chemistry and Physics. On the other hand, there is some significant difference in capabilities when it comes to Math. 

Calculating Standard Deviation in Google Sheets with a filter/condition

Sometimes, your job may entail applying specific conditions to extract data points before calculating the Standard Deviation. And should that be the case, you can use the Filter formula alongside your STDEV formula. 

Let’s go back to our earlier example. Let’s assume we want to calculate the Standard Deviation for students who scored above 13 in Chemistry. In that case, we will need to type in this formula.

=STDEV(Filter(location range, condition))

For our example, the location range can be accurately selected by choosing the cells you’d like to consider for Standard Deviation. Keep in mind that condition is the criteria that qualify the eligibility of a cell value. 

Going back to our example, the following formula will give you the Standard Deviation of only those scores that are above 13 for Chemistry. 

=STDEV(FILTER(B2:B11, B2:B11>13))

From the formula highlighted above, the filter function’s objective is to get values above 13. In the same vane, the STDEV function takes the filtered value and calculates the Standard Deviation value for it. Here is what it should look like on your spreadsheet: 

What are some rules for using STDEV in Google Sheets?

When using the STDEV function in Google Sheets, here are some important points you want to keep in mind: 

  • STDEV function is designed to ignore values or cells containing texts. What this simply means is that if all your parameter values are strings, you’d typically get an error message. 
  • Another important thing you should know is that the STDEV formula is designed to calculate the Standard Deviation for a sample. So, if you need to calculate the Standard Deviation for, let’s say, population, you’d have to use the STDEVP formula. If you use the STDEV formula instead of the STDEVP formula, you’ll get a #DIV/0! Error. 
  • Any blank cell within your given range is typically ignored by Google Sheets when calculating the Standard Deviation using the STDEV formula. 

Other important Standard Deviation formulas in Google Sheets

Besides the STDEV formula, which is super important for calculating Standard Deviation, Google Sheets also have other Standard Deviation formulas you should know. Here, check them out. 

  • STEDEVA: This Standard Deviation formula in Google Sheets is used when calculating the Standard Deviation while interpreting text values as 0. This is an essential formula, especially when dealing with dashes or some text, such as zero in the cell. Let’s assume you have 0 in a particular cell and want it to be counted as 0; you can use the STDEVA formula for that. 
  • STDEVP: If you want to calculate the Standard Deviation of a population, you can use the STDEVP formula. 
  • STDEVPA: Let’s say you want to calculate the Standard Deviation of a population while interpreting text values as 0; this is the formula you want to use. 

Formatting the Standard Deviation result generated by Google Sheets

If you look at the result of the STDEV formula generated in our sample spreadsheet, you’ll notice it has a lot of decimals. However, you can format the result, so it shows less decimals. To do this, you need to follow these steps: 

  • Start by selecting the cell that has the STDEV result
  • Navigate to the Format option and hover your cursor over the Number option. 
  • Finally, choose the Number option 

If you followed the steps exactly as we showed you, you should have a spreadsheet that looks like this. 

Final thoughts 

Standard Deviation is an important metric in statistics. It is super important for figuring out how packed or dispersed your data points are from the mean. Even though the formula for manually calculating Standard Deviation is complicated and time-consuming, Google Sheets has an STDEV function that automatically calculates Standard Deviation in a few clicks. 

Today’s guide provided a step-by-step tutorial and pictorial illustrations of how to calculate Standard Deviation in Google Sheets seamlessly. In case of any confusion, feel free to go over the details again. 

We hope you found this guide on how to calculate Standard Deviation in Google Sheets useful. 

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