Skip to Content

How to Add Error Bars in Google Sheets

Knowing how to insert error bars can be useful when creating charts in Google Sheets.

An error bar can help to show the confidence interval or standard deviation of your data. In other words, it can help represent how much uncertainty or variability there is in your data.

In this tutorial, I will show you how to add error bars in Google Sheets.

How to Add Error Bars in Google Sheets

In Google Sheets, there are a few types of graphs or charts that you can add error bars for. They can be inserted into column charts, bar charts, line charts, and area charts.

To understand how to create error bars in our spreadsheet, first I will create a column chart for us to place our error bars into.

Here are the steps to do this:

1. Firstly, highlight the range of cells that contains the data you want to add to your chart.

column chart 1

2. Then in the top menu select Insert and then select Chart

column chart 2

3. On the right-hand size the chart editor should be showing up. Under the chart type section, change this to the type of chart you want to use. In my example, I have selected Column chart

column chart 3

4. You should now see your chart inside Google Sheets.

column chart 4

Now that I have set up a basic chart, I can move on to showing you how to create the error bars for this chart. Remember you can insert error bars into line charts, bar charts, column charts, and area charts in Google Sheets.

Here is how to add error bars to a chart:

1. To insert error bars, we need to make sure the Chart editor is open. Double click on your chart if the chart editor is not already open. Then select the Customize tab and select Series

add error bars-1

2. After Series is opened you will see a box that says “Error bars”. Check this box and error bars will be added to your chart.

add error bars-2

3. To customize the type of error bar displayed in your chart, select the down arrow under the “Type” section

add error bars-3

4. From here you can choose between Constant, Percent, or Standard Deviation for your error bar type

add error bars-4

5. Lastly you can customize the value that your error bar will be using. Enter the value into the value box

add error bars-5

If you have followed the steps above, you should now be seeing error bars in your chart.

Chart with Error Bars

You can see in my example graph, the error bars have been creating according to the type and value that I have set.

Now that I have covered how to add and customize error bars, I will explain the three types of error bars that you can use in your charts.

Types of Error Bars in Google Sheets

Standard Deviation

Standard deviation error bars are created at the center of the chart. These will give you an idea of how the data is spread out around the mean of the data.

To use this type in your chart you will have to specify the value that you want to use for standard deviation.

Percent

Percent error bars will show you the percentage of the upper and lower range of the data according to the percentage you enter.

By default, it is usually set to 10%, which means your error bar will be set for a range of 90% to 110% of your data.

Constant

A constant type error bar will show an error bar at a constant value depending on the value entered.

For example, if you set your constant value to 5, your error bar will be displayed at a range of +/- 5 for the values in your chart.

Closing Thoughts

Being able to customize your charts by adding error bars can make the data much easier to interpret.

This is definitely a useful skill you should develop if you are regularly creating charts to display data. As you go through this tutorial, try to play around and create each type of error bar to understand the differences between them.

More Google Sheets Tutorials:
How to Make a Histogram
How to Find Slope
How to Create a Candlestick Chart
How to Add a Secondary Y-Axis