MEDIAN function

This article describes the formula syntax and usage of the MEDIAN 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 Excel.

Description

Returns the median of the given numbers. The median is the number in the middle of a set of numbers.

Syntax

MEDIAN(number1, [number2], ...)

The MEDIAN 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.):

  • Number1, number2, ...    Number1 is required, subsequent numbers are optional. 1 to 255 numbers for which you want the median.

Remarks

  • If there is an even number of numbers in the set, then MEDIAN calculates the average of the two numbers in the middle. See the second formula in the example.
  • Arguments can either be numbers or names, arrays, or references that contain numbers.
  • Logical values and text representations of numbers that you type directly into the list of arguments are counted.
  • If an array or 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.

 Note   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.

ShowHow do I copy an example?

  1. Select the example in this article. If you are copying the example in Excel Online, copy and paste one cell at a time.
    Important: Do not select the row or column headers.

Selecting an example from Help

Selecting an example from Help

  1. Press CTRL+C.
  2. Create a blank workbook or worksheet.
  3. In the worksheet, select cell A1, and press CTRL+V. If you are working in Excel Online, 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.
  4. 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.

 
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Data
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Formula Description (Result)
=MEDIAN(A2:A6) Median of the first 5 numbers in the list above (3)
=MEDIAN(A2:A7) Median of all the numbers above, or the average of 3 and 4 (3.5)
 
 
Applies to:
Excel 2010, Excel Web App, SharePoint Online for enterprises, SharePoint Online for professionals and small businesses