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:
- Click on an empty cell where you want the mean to be displayed. In this example, we’ll use cell A13.
- Type the following formula in cell A13:
- 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:
- Select the range of cells containing the data you want to find the mean of (in our example, A2:A11).
- Click on the “Formulas” tab in the Excel ribbon.
- Click on the “More Functions” button in the “Function Library” group.
- Choose “Statistical” from the drop-down menu.
- Click on “AVERAGE” in the list of statistical functions.
- Excel will automatically insert the AVERAGE function with the selected range in the formula bar.
- 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:
- Select the cell containing the mean (in our example, A13).
- Right-click on the selected cell and choose “Format Cells” from the context menu.
- In the “Format Cells” dialog box, click on the “Number” tab.
- Choose “Number” from the “Category” list.
- Set the desired number of decimal places in the “Decimal places” box (for example, 2).