Calculating Standard Deviation In Excel

Sample and Population Standard Deviations

For a set of values representing an entire population, the Population Standard Deviation is give by the following equation:

Population Standard Deviation Equation

where x takes on each value in the set, x is the average (statistical mean) of the set of values, and n is the number of values in the set.

When your data set is a sample of a population, (rather than an entire population), you should use a slightly modified form of the Standard Deviation, known as the Sample Standard Deviation. The equation for this is :

Sample Standard Deviation Equation


There are a total of six different built-in functions for calculating standard deviation in Excel, so it can be confusing when deciding which function to use.

The main differences between the Excel standard deviation functions are:

Also, Excel 2010 has renamed two of the standard deviation functions from older versions of Excel. However, to maintain compatibility with older versions, Excel 2010 has also kept the old named functions, which it stores in its list of "Compatibility" functions.


Functions for Calculating Standard Deviation in Excel

The following table provides a description of the different types of standard deviation function. This will help you to decide which of the functions should be used when calculating a standard deviation in Excel.

Function Version of Excel Population or Sample
Standard Deviation
Treatment of text
& logical values
STDEV.S 2010
(new function in Excel 2010 -
replaces the old STDEV function)
Sample Ignored
STDEV 2003 & 2007
(kept in Excel 2010 for compatibility,
but may be discontinued in
future versions of Excel)
Sample Ignored
STDEVA 2003, 2007 & 2010 Sample Assigned values
(see Table 2)
STDEV.P 2010
(new function in Excel 2010 -
replaces the old STDEVP function)
Population Ignored
STDEVP 2003 & 2007
(kept in Excel 2010 for compatibility,
but may be discontinued in
future versions of Excel)
Population Ignored
STDEVPA 2003, 2007 & 2010 Population Assigned values
(see Table 2)


STDEV.S vs. STDEVA and STDEV.P vs. STDEVPA

The STDEV.S and STDEVA functions, and the STDEV.P and STDEVPA differ only in the way they handle text and logical values that are supplied as a part of an array or range of cells.

For example, if a range of cells containing the logical value TRUE is supplied to the STDEV function, this will return a different result to the same range of cells supplied to the STDEVA function.

The treatment of text and logical values supplied to the standard deviation functions is shown in the following table:

Table2: Treatment of text & logical values supplied to Excel standard deviation functions

Argument Type STDEV.S, STDEV,
STDEV.P & STDEVP
STDEVA & STDEVPA
Logical values, within arrays or reference arguments Ignored ARE counted
(TRUE=1, FALSE=0)
Text (including empty text "", text representations of numbers, or other text), within arrays or reference arguments Ignored Counted as zero
Empty Cells Ignored Ignored
Logical values or text representations of numbers, typed directly into the list of arguments ARE counted
(TRUE=1, FALSE=0)
ARE counted
(TRUE=1, FALSE=0)
Text that cannot be interpreted as a number, typed directly into the list of arguments #VALUE! error #VALUE! error
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