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How to Calculate Standard Deviation

Calculating Standard DeviationCalculating Standard Deviation in Microsoft Excel

Edited by Luv_sarah, Almahmud, Gloster flyer, CQinPDX and 6 others
The standard deviation calculation tells you how spread out the numbers are in your sample. Figuring it out
requires doing a couple calculations beforehand. Follow these steps for a quick and easy rundown on how to set
up the equations.

Method 1 of 2: Calculating Standard Deviation


Find the mean. The mean is the average of all your samples. Add each sample number and then divide
by the number of samples. This is the mean. For example:
o Sample: 53, 61, 49, 67, 55, 63.
o 53 + 61 + 49 + 67 + 55 + 63 = 348
o 348 / 6 = 58
o Mean = 58


Find the variance. The variance is the average of the squared differences from the mean. To get the
variance, first calculate the difference from the mean for each sample number. Square each number then
average the results. For example:
o 53 58 = -5; 61 58 = 3; 49 58 = -9; 67 58 = 9; 55 58 = -3; 63 58 = 5
o (-5)2 + 32 + (-9)2 + 92 + (-3)2 + 52 = 230
o 230 / 6 = 38.33333
o Note: If the numbers you are calculating represent a sample of a larger group, then you would
divide by n 1. So in our example the variance would be calculated as:
o 230 / (6 1) = 46

The standard deviation is the square root of the variance. This number will tell you how closely your
samples are located to the mean. Usually, approximately 68% of all the samples will fall inside one
standard deviation from the mean. For example:
o 38.3333 = 6.19139
o 4 out of our 6 numbers (67%) are within 6.19139 of the mean.

Standard deviation
In statistics and probability theory, the standard deviation (SD) (represented by the Greek letter sigma, )
shows how much variation or dispersion from the average exists.[1] A low standard deviation indicates that the
data points tend to be very close to the mean (also called expected value); a high standard deviation indicates
that the data points are spread out over a large range of values.
The standard deviation of a random variable, statistical population, data set, or probability distribution is the
square root of its variance. It is algebraically simpler though in practice less robust than the average absolute
deviation.[2][3] A useful property of the standard deviation is that, unlike the variance, it is expressed in the same
units as the data. Note, however, that for measurements with percentage as the unit, the standard deviation will
have percentage points as the unit.
In addition to expressing the variability of a population, the standard deviation is commonly used to measure
confidence in statistical conclusions. For example, the margin of error in polling data is determined by
calculating the expected standard deviation in the results if the same poll were to be conducted multiple times.
The reported margin of error is typically about twice the standard deviationthe half-width of a 95 percent
confidence interval. In science, researchers commonly report the standard deviation of experimental data, and
only effects that fall much farther than one standard deviation away from what would have been expected are
considered statistically significantnormal random error or variation in the measurements is in this way
distinguished from causal variation. The standard deviation is also important in finance, where the standard
deviation on the rate of return on an investment is a measure of the volatility of the investment.
When only a sample of data from a population is available, the term standard deviation of the sample or
sample standard deviation can refer to either the above-mentioned quantity as applied to those data or to a
modified quantity that is a better estimate of the population standard deviation (the standard deviation of the
entire population).