This article describes the formula syntax and usage of the AVERAGE function (function: A prewritten formula that takes a value or values, performs an operation, and returns a value or values. Use functions to simplify and shorten formulas on a worksheet, especially those that perform lengthy or complex calculations.) in Microsoft Office Excel.
Returns the average (arithmetic mean) of the arguments. For example, if the range (range: Two or more cells on a sheet. The cells in a range can be adjacent or nonadjacent.) A1:A20 contains numbers, the formula =AVERAGE(A1:A20) returns the average of those numbers.
The AVERAGE function syntax has the following arguments (argument: A value that provides information to an action, an event, a method, a property, a function, or a procedure.):
- Arguments can either be numbers or names, ranges, or cell references that contain numbers.
- Logical values and text representations of numbers that you type directly into the list of arguments are counted.
- If a range or cell reference argument contains text, logical values, or empty cells, those values are ignored; however, cells with the value zero are included.
- Arguments that are error values or text that cannot be translated into numbers cause errors.
- If you want to include logical values and text representations of numbers in a reference as part of the calculation, use the AVERAGEA function.
- If you want to calculate the average of only the values that meet certain criteria, use the AVERAGEIF function or the AVERAGEIFS function.
Note 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.
Tip When you average cells, keep in mind the difference between empty cells and those containing the value zero, especially if you have cleared the Show a zero in cells that have a zero value check box in the Excel Options dialog box. When this option is selected, empty cells are not counted, but zero values are.
To locate the Show a zero in cells that have a zero value check box:
- Click the Microsoft Office Button , click Excel Options, and then, in the Advanced category, look under Display options for this worksheet.
The example may be easier to understand if you copy it to a blank worksheet.
How do I copy an example?
- Select the example in this article. If you are copying the example in Excel Web App, copy and paste one cell at a time.Important Do not select the row or column headers.
Selecting an example from Help
- Press CTRL+C.
- Create a blank workbook or worksheet.
- In the worksheet, select cell A1, and press CTRL+V. If you are working in Excel Web App, repeat copying and pasting for each cell in the example.
Important For the example to work properly, you must paste it into cell A1 of the worksheet.
- 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.
After you copy the example to a blank worksheet, you can adapt it to suit your needs.
||Average of the numbers in cells A2 through A6.
||Average of the numbers in cells A2 through A6 and the number 5.
||Average of the numbers in cells A2 through C2.