Microsoft Excel is a powerful tool for data analysis, and one of the most common tasks you may perform is finding the mean (average) of a data set. The mean is a measure of central tendency that represents the sum of all values in a data set divided by the number of values. In this article, we will walk you through the process of finding the mean of a data set in Excel, using a sample set of data and the built-in AVERAGE function.

# How to Find the Mean of a Dataset

Let’s consider a sample data set consisting of the following test scores:

We will use this data set to demonstrate how to find the mean of a data set using Excel’s AVERAGE function.

## Step 1: Understand the AVERAGE Function

The AVERAGE function in Excel calculates the arithmetic mean of a range of cells, ignoring empty cells or cells containing text. The syntax for the AVERAGE function is:

``=AVERAGE(number1, [number2], ...)``

Where number1, number2, … are the numbers or cell references for which you want to find the mean. You can include up to 255 arguments in the AVERAGE function.

## Step 2: Apply the AVERAGE Function to the Sample Data Set

To find the mean of this data set in our sample, follow these steps:

1. Click on an empty cell where you want the mean to be displayed. In this example, we’ll use cell A13.
2. Type the following formula in cell A13: `=AVERAGE(A2:A11)`
3. Press Enter.

The mean of the test scores (86.3) will now be displayed in cell A13.

Alternative Method: Using the Ribbon

You can also use Excel’s ribbon to find the mean of a data set:

1. Select the range of cells containing the data you want to find the mean of (in our example, A2:A11).
2. Click on the “Formulas” tab in the Excel ribbon.
3. Click on the “More Functions” button in the “Function Library” group.
4. Choose “Statistical” from the drop-down menu.
5. Click on “AVERAGE” in the list of statistical functions.
6. Excel will automatically insert the AVERAGE function with the selected range in the formula bar.
7. Press Enter.

The mean of the test scores (86.3) will now be displayed in the selected cell.

## Step 3: Formatting the Result

To make the result more readable, you can format the cell containing the mean as a number with a desired number of decimal places. Follow these steps:

1. Select the cell containing the mean (in our example, A13).
2. Right-click on the selected cell and choose “Format Cells” from the context menu.
3. In the “Format Cells” dialog box, click on the “Number” tab.
4. Choose “Number” from the “Category” list.
5. Set the desired number of decimal places in the “Decimal places” box (for example, 2).