Let's say you want to find the average number of days to complete a milestone in a project or the average temperature on a particular day over a 10-year time span. There are several ways to calculate the average of a group of numbers.

The AVERAGE function measures central tendency, which is the location of the center of a group of numbers in a statistical distribution. The three most common measures of central tendency are:

Average which is the arithmetic mean, and is calculated by adding a group of numbers and then dividing by the count of those numbers. For example, the average of 2, 3, 3, 5, 7, and 10 is 30 divided by 6, which is 5.

Median which is the middle number of a group of numbers; that is, half the numbers have values that are greater than the median, and half the numbers have values that are less than the median. For example, the median of 2, 3, 3, 5, 7, and 10 is 4.

Mode which is the most frequently occurring number in a group of numbers. For example, the mode of 2, 3, 3, 5, 7, and 10 is 3.

For a symmetrical distribution of a group of numbers, these three measures of central tendency are all the same. For a skewed distribution of a group of numbers, they can be different.

In the worksheet, select cell A1, and press CTRL+V.

To switch between viewing the results and viewing the formulas that return the results, press CTRL+` (grave accent), or on the Formulas tab, in the Formula Auditing group, click the Show Formulas button.

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

A

Data

10

7

9

27

0

4

Formula

Description (Result)

=AVERAGE(A2:A7)

Averages all of numbers in list above (9.5)

=AVERAGE(A2:A4,A7)

Averages the top three and the last number in the list (7.5)

=AVERAGEIF(A2:A7, "<>0")

Averages the numbers in the list except those that contain zero, such as cell A6 (11.4)

In the worksheet, select cell A1, and press CTRL+V.

To switch between viewing the results and viewing the formulas that return the results, press CTRL+` (grave accent), or on the Formulas tab, in the Formula Auditing group, click the Show Formulas button.

This example calculates the average price paid for a unit across three purchases, where each purchase is for a different number of units at a different price per unit.

1

2

3

4

A

B

Price per unit

Number of units

20

500

25

750

35

200

Formula

Description (Result)

=SUMPRODUCT(A2:A4,B2:B4)/SUM(B2:B4)

Divides the total cost of all three orders by the total number of units ordered (24.66)

In the worksheet, select cell A1, and press CTRL+V.

To switch between viewing the results and viewing the formulas that return the results, press CTRL+` (grave accent), or on the Formulas tab, in the Formula Auditing group, click the Show Formulas button.

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

A

Data

10

7

9

27

0

4

Formula

Description (Result)

=AVERAGEIF(A2:A7, "<>0")

Averages the numbers in the list except those that contain zero, such as cell A6 (11.4)

Let's say you want to find out what the midpoint is in a distribution of student grades or a quality control data sample. To calculate the median of a group of numbers, use the MEDIAN function.

The MEDIAN function measures central tendency, which is the location of the center of a group of numbers in a statistical distribution. The three most common measures of central tendency are:

Average which is the arithmetic mean, and is calculated by adding a group of numbers and then dividing by the count of those numbers. For example, the average of 2, 3, 3, 5, 7, and 10 is 30 divided by 6, which is 5.

Median which is the middle number of a group of numbers; that is, half the numbers have values that are greater than the median, and half the numbers have values that are less than the median. For example, the median of 2, 3, 3, 5, 7, and 10 is 4.

Mode which is the most frequently occurring number in a group of numbers. For example, the mode of 2, 3, 3, 5, 7, and 10 is 3.

For a symmetrical distribution of a group of numbers, these three measures of central tendency are all the same. For a skewed distribution of a group of numbers, they can be different.

Example

The example may be easier to understand if you copy it to a blank worksheet.

In the worksheet, select cell A1, and press CTRL+V.

To switch between viewing the results and viewing the formulas that return the results, press CTRL+` (grave accent), or on the Formulas tab, in the Formula Auditing group, click the Show Formulas button.

Let's say you want to find out the most common number of bird species sighted in a sample of bird counts at a critical wetland over a 30-year time period, or you want to find out the most frequently occurring number of phone calls at a telephone support center during off-peak hours. To calculate the mode of a group of numbers, use the MODE function.

The MODE function measures central tendency, which is the location of the center of a group of numbers in a statistical distribution. The three most common measures of central tendency are:

Average which is the arithmetic mean, and is calculated by adding a group of numbers and then dividing by the count of those numbers. For example, the average of 2, 3, 3, 5, 7, and 10 is 30 divided by 6, which is 5.

Median which is the middle number of a group of numbers; that is, half the numbers have values that are greater than the median, and half the numbers have values that are less than the median. For example, the median of 2, 3, 3, 5, 7, and 10 is 4.

Mode which is the most frequently occurring number in a group of numbers. For example, the mode of 2, 3, 3, 5, 7, and 10 is 3.

For a symmetrical distribution of a group of numbers, these three measures of central tendency are all the same. For a skewed distribution of a group of numbers, they can be different.

Example

The example may be easier to understand if you copy it to a blank worksheet.

In the worksheet, select cell A1, and press CTRL+V.

To switch between viewing the results and viewing the formulas that return the results, press CTRL+` (grave accent), or on the Formulas tab, in the Formula Auditing group, click the Show Formulas button.