Computing the Mean in Excel

Fundamentals of Social Statistics by Adam J. McKee

Excel is an indispensable tool for anyone dabbling in data, from financial analysts to social science researchers. One of its many capabilities is computing the mean of a set of scores. With a few simple steps, you can leverage Excel’s AVERAGE function to do just that. Let’s dive in!

Why Use Excel for Calculating the Mean?

Excel isn’t just a platform for inputting and storing data; it’s a powerful computational tool. When working with large sets of numbers, manually calculating the mean can be tedious and prone to errors. Excel simplifies the process, ensuring accuracy and saving time.

Quick and Efficient

Instead of painstakingly adding scores and then dividing them, Excel can compute the mean in a split second. This is particularly beneficial when working with extensive datasets.

Dynamic Updates

If you update or add a new score to your dataset, Excel automatically recalculates the mean for you, ensuring your analysis remains up-to-date.

Integration with Other Functions

Excel provides a suite of other statistical functions. Once you have the mean, you can easily compute other statistics, create graphs, or conduct further analyses, all within the same platform.

Using the AVERAGE Function in Excel

The AVERAGE function is Excel’s built-in tool to compute the mean. Let’s explore how to use it.

Basic Computation

  1. Open Excel and input your scores in a single column or row.
  2. Click on an empty cell where you want the mean to appear.
  3. Type =AVERAGE(
  4. Highlight the range of cells containing the scores you want to average.
  5. Close the parenthesis ) and hit Enter.

Voilà! The mean of your scores will appear in the cell.

Figure 12: The Average Function in Excel.
Figure 12: The Average Function in Excel.

Tips for Using AVERAGE

  • If you’re computing the mean of consecutive cells, simply click and drag to highlight the range.
  • For non-consecutive cells, hold down the Ctrl key (Cmd on Mac) and click each cell you want to include.
  • If you insert a new row or column within your range, Excel automatically updates the mean.

Calculating the Mean in Google Sheets

Google Sheets, akin to Excel, offers a range of functions that make data analysis accessible and straightforward. If you’re looking to calculate the mean in Google Sheets, you’ll be pleased to know that the process mirrors that of Excel quite closely, making it an excellent tool for those who prefer cloud-based solutions or collaborate on shared projects.

Steps to Use the AVERAGE Function in Google Sheets

  1. Open Google Sheets and input your data into a single column or row.
  2. Click on an empty cell where you’d like the mean to be displayed.
  3. Type =AVERAGE(.
  4. Drag and select the range of cells containing the scores you intend to average.
  5. After selecting the desired cells, close the parenthesis ) and press Enter.

There you have it! The mean of your data will be displayed in the selected cell.

Handy Hints for Google Sheets AVERAGE Function

  • Google Sheets allows you to quickly select a range by clicking and dragging across your desired cells.
  • To select non-adjacent cells, hold down the Ctrl key (Cmd on Mac) while clicking each cell individually.
  • Inserting rows or columns within your selected range? Not a problem! Google Sheets updates the mean automatically.

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Last Modified:  09/27/2023

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