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Going Further with Graphs Index

Trend Lines
Calculating Slopes
Plotting Derived Data
Error Bars Showing Standard Deviations
Entering Error Bars on a Scatter Plot

ICT in Biology Index

Using MS Excel as a Calculator
Using MS Excel as a Database

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Note about this Tutorial

This tutorial has been updated. It was originally published using Excel 2003. The new images are screenshots from Excel 2013.

There may be very slight differences for those of you using Excel 2016 but, essentially, the layout is much the same as Excel 2013.

Download the Excel Data File used for this tutorial to practice with

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EBPFile.xlsx

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Using MS Excel 2013 : Going Further with Graphs

Adding Error Bars

Error bars are way of showing the degree of uncertainty in a set of data. MS Excel can add them to your graphs.

Error Bars Showing Precision

The data below show the results from an experiment where the seeds from three species of plants were germinated for one week. At the end of the week the numbers of seeds germinating were counted. 25 seeds were used in each trial.

First the data is entered onto a spread sheet. The spread sheet is used to calculate the mean and the mean percentage germination. Then a bar chart is drawn using the graphing menu.

Graph01

To enter the error bars first left click on one of the columns. This activates all the columns. Then, from the Chart Elements menu move to Error Bars and select More Options.

Graph02

As this is a bar chart it will only offer to draw error bars on the y-axis. Select precision and enter 4. The data is calculated from samples of 25 seeds so the degree of precision is ± 1 seed. This means each seed represents 1/25 or 4% uncertainty.

Graph02

Note: You will notice that you also have the possibility to enter percentage error, it should not be used this time as it will calculate 4% of each data point so the error bars will be proportional to the data (try it and you will see).

Graph03

 

Next : Error Bars Showing Standard Deviations

 

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