How to Add Individual Error Bars in Excel (with Easy Steps)

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Though many of us are not comfortable with uncertainty due to its lack of data, uncertainty is a good thing to prepare the company for the future, create innovations, and provide technological breakthroughs. For this, they need to calculate the margins of error and show them by using what is known as error bars. In this tutorial, you will learn a quick method to add individual error bars in Excel.

What Are Error Bars in Excel?

Error bars in your charts can help you quickly see ranges of errors and standard deviations. They can be displayed as a standard error amount, a standard deviation, or a percentage on all data points in a data series. You can customize the mistake amounts displayed by entering new values. For example, in the results of a scientific experiment like the following, you can show a 10% positive and negative error amount.

Error Bars

In the two-dimensional area, column, bar, XY (scatter), line, and bubble charts, error bars can be used. Error bars for x and y values can be displayed in scatter and bubble charts.

How to Add Error Bars in Excel:

You can include error bars for particular types of charts in MS Excel, such as bar charts, line charts, and scatter charts. Let’s introduce our dataset first. Our first goal is to add error bars to it.

Adding Error Bars

The following steps will help you to add error bars in Excel.

📌 Steps: 

  • First, select the chart in which you want to add error bars. Then, click on the Plus sign (+) next to the chart. A chart element box will appear.

Adding Error Bars

  • Make sure the tick mark is at the Error Bars box. Click on the arrow next to it. A list of items will appear that you can add to your chart.

Adding Error Bars


You can include the error bars as follows in your chart.

  • Standard Error: shows the standard error of the average for all values, which displays the gap between the sample average and the population average of the data series.
  • Standard Deviation: displays the amount of scattering of the data, i.e. how far is it from the mean. The default standard deviation is 1 for all data points.
  • Percentage Error: adds percentage error bars to your chart. The percentage error is 5% by default.

Step 1: Adding Individual Error Bars Through Excel Chart Elements

  • Click on plus sign (+) next to the chart >> Error Bars >> More options. A Format Error Bars window will pop up.

Click & Go to Chart Elements

Step 2: Customizing Error Amount

  • Now, select Custom and then click on the Specific Value option. A Custom Error Bars dialog box will appear.

Customize Error Amount

Step 3: Setting Positive and Negative Error Values in Excel

  • Delete the previous contents of the Positive Error Value box. Then, keep the cursor in the box (or click on the Collapse Dialog button next to it), and select the data range from your spreadsheet (In this example, G5:G8).
  • Do similar things for the Negative Error Value box. If you don’t need to display negative error bars, just type 0 in this box. Finally, click on the OK.

Set Positive and Negative Error Values

Here is the result.

How to Add Individual Error Bars in Excel


You need to make sure to delete the entire previous contents in the Positive and Negative Error Value boxes. Because the new range will be added to the previous existing array as shown below and an error message will pop up.


Download Practice Workbook

You can download the following practice workbook that we have used to prepare this article.


In this tutorial, I have discussed a quick method to add individual error bars in Excel. I hope you found this article helpful. Please drop comments, suggestions, or queries if you have any in the comment section below.

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Hafizul Islam
Hafizul Islam

Hafizul Islam is an excellent marine engineer who loves working with Excel and diving into VBA programming. For him, programming is like a superhero tool that saves time when dealing with data, files, and the internet. His skills go beyond the basics, including Rhino3D, Maxsurf C++, AutoCAD, Deep Neural Networks, and Machine Learning. He got his B.Sc in Naval Architecture & Marine Engineering from BUET, and now he's switched gears, working as a content developer. In this role,... Read Full Bio

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