Excel Tutorial: How To Calculate Variance In Excel Between Two Numbers


Are you looking to master the art of data analysis in Excel? One crucial concept to understand is variance. Variance measures how much a set of numbers deviates from their mean, making it a vital component in understanding the spread and distribution of data. In this tutorial, we will explore the importance of calculating variance in data analysis and guide you through the process of calculating variance in Excel between two numbers.

Key Takeaways

  • Variance measures the spread and distribution of data from their mean.
  • Calculating variance is vital in data analysis for understanding data variability.
  • Excel provides efficient functions, such as VAR.P and VAR.S, for calculating variance.
  • Proper inputting of data and understanding of Excel functions are crucial to accurate variance calculations.
  • Interpreting variance values is essential for drawing meaningful conclusions from data analysis.

Understanding Variance in Excel

Variance is a statistical measure that indicates the degree of variation or dispersion of a set of values. In simpler terms, it tells us how far each value in the data set is from the mean. Understanding how to calculate variance in Excel is essential for data analysis and decision-making.

A. Definition of variance in statistics
  • Variance is a measure of how far a set of numbers are spread out from their average value.
  • It is calculated by finding the average of the squared differences from the mean.

B. Explanation of how variance is calculated
  • First, calculate the mean (average) of the set of numbers.
  • Next, subtract the mean from each number to get the deviation.
  • Then, square each deviation to get the squared differences.
  • Finally, find the average of the squared differences to get the variance.

C. Importance of using Excel for variance calculations
  • Efficiency: Excel provides a convenient and efficient way to perform complex calculations, including variance calculations, for large sets of data.
  • Accuracy: Using Excel ensures that the calculations are accurate and free from human errors.
  • Visualization: Excel allows for the creation of visual representations, such as charts and graphs, to better understand the variance in the data.
  • Flexibility: Excel offers various functions and formulas that make it easy to calculate and analyze variance in different scenarios.

Inputting Data in Excel

When calculating the variance between two numbers in Excel, it's important to input the data correctly in order to obtain accurate results. Here's how to efficiently input the data set in Excel, use the correct format for the data, and avoid common inputting errors.

A. How to input the data set in Excel

To input the data set in Excel, follow these steps:

  • Open a new Excel spreadsheet: Launch Excel and open a new worksheet to input the data.
  • Label the columns: Enter a label for the two sets of numbers in separate columns, such as "Number 1" and "Number 2."
  • Enter the numbers: Input the numbers into the respective columns under the labeled headers.

B. Using the correct format for the data

Using the correct format for the data is essential for accurate calculations. Follow these guidelines:

  • Use numerical values: Ensure that the data entered is in numerical format to allow for variance calculations.
  • Check for text or special characters: Avoid inputting any text or special characters, as they can interfere with the calculation process.
  • Verify data accuracy: Double-check the inputted numbers to ensure they are accurate and free of errors.

C. Avoiding common inputting errors

To prevent common inputting errors, consider the following tips:

  • Avoid blank cells: Ensure that there are no blank cells within the data set, as this can cause errors in the variance calculation.
  • Use consistent formatting: Maintain uniform formatting throughout the data set to prevent discrepancies in the calculation process.
  • Verify data range: Check that the data range is accurately selected when performing the variance calculation.

Using Excel Functions to Calculate Variance

When working with data in Excel, it is often necessary to calculate the variance between two numbers. Excel provides two functions, VAR.P and VAR.S, which can be used for this purpose.

A. Introduction to the VAR.P and VAR.S functions in Excel

The VAR.P function in Excel is used to calculate the variance of a population, while the VAR.S function is used to calculate the variance of a sample. Understanding the difference between population and sample variance is important when using these functions.

B. Step-by-step guide on using the functions to calculate variance

Using the VAR.P function

  • Begin by entering the numbers for which you want to calculate the variance into a column in Excel.
  • Select the cell where you want the variance result to appear.
  • Enter the formula "=VAR.P(" followed by the range of cells containing the data, and then close the parentheses. For example, if the data is in cells A1 to A10, the formula would be "=VAR.P(A1:A10)".
  • Press Enter, and the variance of the population will be calculated and displayed in the selected cell.

Using the VAR.S function

  • The process for using the VAR.S function is similar to that of the VAR.P function.
  • Enter the numbers into a column and select the cell for the variance result.
  • Enter the formula "=VAR.S(" followed by the range of cells containing the data, and then close the parentheses.
  • Press Enter, and the variance of the sample will be calculated and displayed in the selected cell.

C. Understanding the differences between VAR.P and VAR.S

It is important to understand the distinction between population and sample variance when using the VAR.P and VAR.S functions. Population variance is used when the data represents the entire population, while sample variance is used when the data represents a subset of the population. Using the appropriate function for the type of data being analyzed is crucial for accurate results.

Interpreting the Results

Once you have calculated the variance between two numbers in Excel, it’s important to be able to interpret the results accurately. Understanding the variance calculation and what the value indicates will allow you to draw meaningful conclusions from your data.

A. How to interpret the variance calculation
  • Understanding the formula:

    The variance calculation in Excel is based on the differences between each data point and the mean. It gives you a measure of how much each data point deviates from the mean.
  • Positive vs. negative variance:

    A positive variance indicates that the data points are spread out from the mean in the positive direction, while a negative variance indicates that the data points are spread out in the negative direction.
  • Comparing variance values:

    When comparing variance values, a larger value indicates that the data points are more spread out from the mean, while a smaller value indicates that the data points are closer to the mean.

B. Understanding what the variance value indicates
  • Measure of dispersion:

    The variance value provides a measure of how much the data points in a set are dispersed or spread out from the mean.
  • Importance in statistical analysis:

    Variance is a key measure in statistical analysis as it helps in understanding the variability and distribution of data.
  • Impact on decision making:

    The variance value can impact decision making by providing insights into the stability and consistency of data.

C. Real-life examples of interpreting variance in Excel
  • Financial analysis:

    In financial analysis, interpreting variance in Excel can help in understanding the volatility of stock prices or the variability of investment returns.
  • Quality control:

    In manufacturing and production, interpreting variance can assist in analyzing the consistency and uniformity of product quality.
  • Performance evaluation:

    In organizational performance evaluation, interpreting variance can provide insights into the variability of sales figures, customer satisfaction scores, or employee productivity metrics.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

When calculating variance in Excel, there are several common mistakes that can affect the accuracy of your results. It's important to be aware of these potential errors and learn how to avoid them. Here are some common mistakes to watch out for:

A. Errors in data input that can affect the variance calculation

  • 1. Incorrect data format: One common mistake is entering data in the wrong format, such as text instead of numbers. This can lead to errors in the variance calculation.
  • 2. Missing or incomplete data: If there are missing or incomplete data points, it can skew the variance calculation. Make sure to double-check your data set for any missing values.
  • 3. Outliers: Outliers in your data set can significantly impact the variance calculation. It's important to identify and handle outliers appropriately.

B. Misuse of Excel functions for variance calculations

  • 1. Incorrect formula: Using the wrong formula for variance calculation can lead to inaccurate results. Make sure to use the appropriate Excel function for variance (e.g., VAR or VARP).
  • 2. Improper cell references: Misusing cell references or ranges in the variance formula can result in errors. Double-check your cell references to ensure they are correct.

C. How to identify and fix mistakes in variance calculations

  • 1. Review your data: Before performing any variance calculation, review your data set for accuracy and completeness. Ensure that all data points are entered correctly and there are no outliers.
  • 2. Use built-in functions: Instead of manually calculating the variance, utilize the built-in Excel functions for variance calculation. This can help reduce the risk of errors.
  • 3. Verify your results: After performing the variance calculation, verify your results with alternative methods or tools to ensure their accuracy.


Calculating variance in Excel is an essential skill for anyone working with data analysis. It helps to understand the spread between two numbers and is crucial for making informed statistical decisions.

We encourage you to practice variance calculations in Excel to improve your data analysis skills. The more comfortable you become with these calculations, the more efficient and effective you will be in utilizing Excel for your data analysis needs.

Key points covered in the tutorial:

  • Importance of calculating variance in Excel for data analysis
  • Step-by-step guide on how to calculate variance in Excel between two numbers
  • Understanding the significance of variance for making statistical decisions

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