How to Add Error Bars in Excel and Customize Them?


Visualizing data is an important part of analyzing it because it makes it easier to explain things that are hard to understand. The error bar is one of Excel’s most useful tools. They help you understand data better by showing you where there is variation and uncertainty.

What Are Error Bars?

Error bars are an important part of showing how uncertain or variable each data point on a chart is. These graphic elements extend from the plotted points and visually show where the real value is likely to fall. Error bars in Excel can be based on different things, such as standard deviation, standard error, or confidence intervals.

Why Use Error Bars in Excel?

Error bars do more for your charts than just make them look better. First of all, error bars make it easier to understand your data because they show visually how uncertain each data point is. Second, they give a more accurate picture of the dataset, which makes the analysis as a whole more trustworthy.

Adding Error Bars in Excel – Step-by-Step

Let’s talk about how things really work. Adding error bars in Excel is a methodical process that makes sure the data is shown correctly:

  • Look for the Info in Excel: Open the Excel sheet with the set of data you want to show.
  • Get to the “Chart Tools” Tab: Once you have your data, go to the “Chart Tools” tab in Excel. There, you’ll find the options you need to change your chart.
  • To add error bars to a chart, click on the chart you want to change and make sure it is highlighted. This step makes sure that any changes that are made only affect the chosen chart.

how to add error bars in excel

  • Choose the Right Error Bar: On the “Chart Tools” tab, find the “Layout” or “Design” option. “Error Bars” is a button. Click on it, and then use the drop-down menu to choose the type of error bars that works best for you.

Customizing Error Bars

Even if the error bars’ default settings are fine, you can change them to fit your presentation style and what you want to draw attention to. Here’s how to change the way Excel’s error bars look:

  • Adjusting Error Bar Values: Right-click on the error bars, choose “Format Error Bars,” and then change the values as needed for your dataset.
  • Change How Error Bars Look: You can make your error bars stand out or blend in with the rest of your chart by trying different colors, styles, and line weights.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Like any other way to show data, using error bars can lead to some common mistakes. It can be hard to understand the data and explain it to others if you don’t know what the error bars mean or choose the wrong type.

Tips for Effective Use of Error Bars

Here are some tips on how to use error bars effectively:

  • Labeling Error Bars: Make sure that your error bars are clearly labeled so that people can understand what they show. This labeling makes it easier to understand and see your visual data.
  • Giving More Context for Interpretation: Add some explanation text to your chart to help your audience understand the data properly. People can better understand what the information means with this extra information.

how to add error bars in excel

Visualizing Error Bars in Excel Charts

Error bars are easy to add to different kinds of charts, and each one shows in a different way how uncertain the data is. Consider these images:

  • Error bars show how different each group is from the others in a bar chart.
  • Error bars help show how trends change over time by pointing out that each data point doesn’t know what will happen next.
  • Error bars on scatter plots give more information about how two variables are related and also show how uncertain the relationship is.

Comparing Different Excel Versions

It’s important to know that the way to add error bars may be a little different in different versions of Excel. Whether you’re using Excel 2010, 2013, 2016, or a version after that, knowing these differences will help you use the program better.

Utilizing Error Bars in Data Analysis

When you add error bars, it changes a lot about how you look at the data. It lets you know how statistically important your results are, so you can make decisions based on a better understanding of your data.

how to add error bars in excel

Real-world Examples

Let’s look at some situations where the data would have been hard to understand without error bars so you can see how important they are in the real world. These case studies show how important it is to show how uncertain data is in different situations.

Excel Alternatives for Error Bars

Excel is still a good way to analyze and show data, but trying out other software, especially when showing data uncertainty, can help you do more. Think about other platforms that might have special features that fit your needs for analysis.

Future Trends in Data Visualization

The field of data visualization is always changing and getting better. Check out how error bars are changing and how AI is being used to help people understand and show data. If you keep up with these changes, you’ll be on the cutting edge of how data is sent and received.

Challenges in Interpreting Error Bars

Error bars are helpful, but sometimes they are hard to understand. When you recognize and talk about common problems, you make sure your audience understands the details of the information you’re giving them, which helps them understand it better.


In conclusion, adding error bars to Excel charts improves the way data is shown by giving a more complete and nuanced picture of the dataset. As you start to visualize your data, play around with the error bars to find new insights in your datasets. To read more content like this, visit

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can I put error bars on any type of Excel chart?

Yes, error bars can be added to bar charts, line charts, and scatter plots, among others.

Should all datasets have error bars?

When there is a lot of variation or uncertainty in a set of data, error bars are especially helpful.

How do I get rid of Excel’s error bars?

Right-click on the error bars, select “Delete,” or choose “None” from the list of formatting options.

Can I change how the error bars look?

Yes, you can change the style, color, and other aspects of the error bars.

Is Excel the only way to show that data isn’t certain?

No, there are a lot of different kinds of software that each have their own ways of showing and understanding the uncertainty of data.

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