How to Add Error Bars in Google Sheets: A Step-by-Step Guide

Adding error bars in Google Sheets is a straightforward process. Essentially, you first need to have your data organized in a chart. Once you’ve done that, go into the chart editor and click on the ‘Customize’ tab. There, you’ll find the option to add error bars, choose the type and value, and voila! You’ve got yourself a chart that now visually represents the variability in your data.

Step by Step Tutorial: Adding Error Bars in Google Sheets

Before we jump into the nitty-gritty, let’s clarify what we’re about to do. Adding error bars to your charts in Google Sheets helps to indicate the variability of your data. It’s a visual representation that can add a lot of credibility to your work. Let’s get started!

Step 1: Select your data range

Select the range of data you want to represent in your chart.
This step is crucial as it determines what data will be included in the chart you’re about to create. Make sure to select only the data you need.

Step 2: Insert a chart

From the menu, click on ‘Insert’ and then ‘Chart’ to add a new chart to your sheet.
Google Sheets will automatically choose a chart type for you, but you can change this later if needed.

Step 3: Open the Chart Editor

Once the chart is inserted, the Chart Editor will pop up on the right side of your screen.
The Chart Editor is where all the magic happens. It allows you to customize your chart in various ways, including adding error bars.

Step 4: Click on ‘Customize’ Tab

In the Chart Editor, click on the ‘Customize’ tab to reveal more options.
The ‘Customize’ tab offers a plethora of customization options. Take some time to explore these after you’ve added your error bars.

Step 5: Add Error Bars

Scroll down until you find the ‘Error bars’ option and click on it to expand it.
Here, you can choose the type of error bars you want to add, such as ‘Constant’, ‘Percentage’, or ‘Standard Deviation’, depending on your data needs.

Step 6: Choose Error Bar Type and Value

Select the type of error bars you want and enter the value.
The value you enter will determine the length of the error bars. It’s important to choose a value that accurately represents the variability or standard error in your data.

After completing these steps, your chart will now have error bars that reflect the variability or uncertainty of your data. This visual aid can be incredibly helpful when presenting data, as it provides a clear indication of the ranges within your dataset.

Tips for Adding Error Bars in Google Sheets

  • Make sure your data is organized and clean before attempting to add error bars.
  • Familiarize yourself with the different types of error bars and when to use them.
  • Remember that the value you input for the error bars will affect their appearance, so choose wisely.
  • If you’re unsure about the values to input, do some research or consult with a colleague.
  • Always double-check your chart and error bars before presenting your data to others.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are error bars?

Error bars are graphical representations of the variability of data and are used on charts to indicate the error or uncertainty in a reported measurement.

Can I add error bars to any type of chart?

While error bars are most commonly added to bar charts and line charts, they can be added to other chart types as long as it makes sense for the data being represented.

Do I always need to add error bars to my charts?

No, adding error bars is not always necessary. It depends on the type of data you are presenting and whether the variability is significant to your analysis or audience.

Can I customize the color of the error bars?

Yes, in Google Sheets, you can customize the color, thickness, and style of your error bars within the Chart Editor.

What’s the difference between ‘Standard Deviation’ and ‘Standard Error’ error bars?

‘Standard Deviation’ error bars depict the spread of data around the mean, while ‘Standard Error’ error bars show the precision of the estimate of the mean.


  1. Select your data range.
  2. Insert a chart.
  3. Open the Chart Editor.
  4. Click on ‘Customize’ Tab.
  5. Add Error Bars.
  6. Choose Error Bar Type and Value.


Error bars are a powerful tool in data visualization, as they communicate the reliability and precision of your data. Learning how to add error bars in Google Sheets can elevate your data presentation and analysis to a professional level. It’s vital, however, to understand the type of error bars suitable for your data set and to correctly interpret what they represent. With this skill under your belt, you can confidently showcase your findings and provide your audience with an insightful look into the uncertainty that inherently comes with any data collection. Remember, a chart with well-placed error bars can be the difference between a good presentation and a great one. Keep practicing, keep analyzing, and let those error bars tell the real story behind your numbers.