How to Make a Bell Curve in Google Sheets: A Quick and Easy Guide

Last Modified: February 22, 2024 - 4 min read

Hannah Recker

A bell curve is a graphical representation of a normal distribution, which is a type of probability distribution that occurs frequently in various data sets.

Bell curves are often employed in data analysis to visualize and understand the trends, patterns, and variability in the data being analyzed. By using Google Sheets, one can create a bell curve that represents the distribution of their data effectively and efficiently.

Let’s walk through the process.

Gathering and Preparing Data

Before creating a bell curve in Google Sheets, it is crucial to gather and prepare the data properly.

This section will cover two important aspects of this process: Identifying Key Data and Entering and Organizing Data.

Identifying Key Data

When working with data in Google Sheets, the first step is to identify the key data points needed for creating the bell curve.

For a standard bell curve, a few parameters should be known:

  1. Mean: The average value of the dataset, which will be the center of the bell curve.
  2. Standard Deviation: A measure of the dispersion of the data, which determines the width of the curve.
  3. The +/- 3 standard deviation values of the average. These represent the standard deviation extremes (Low and High).
  4. A range sequence.
  5. The normal distribution for all data points.

The mean and standard deviation can be calculated using the AVERAGE() and STDEV() functions in Google Sheets, respectively.

Entering and Organizing Data

Once the key data points have been identified, it’s essential to enter and organize the data in Google Sheets correctly.

Follow these steps to ensure properly formatted data for creating a bell curve:

Input all the data points into a single column or row. Make sure there are no blank cells between the data points, as this could lead to incorrect results.

Inputting student exam score data into a column in Google Sheets.

Calculate the mean and standard deviation of the dataset with the following formulas:

  • Mean: =AVERAGE(B2:B16)
  • Standard Deviation: =STDEV(B2:B16)
Calculating mean and standard deviation of student exam scores in Google Sheets.

Next, we’ll calculate the standard deviation extremes (Low and High): -3 and +3.

Use the formula ‘=D2-(E2*3)’ for Low ‘=D2+(E2*3)’ for the High, where D2 is the mean and E2 is the standard deviation​.

 Detailed instructions on computing standard deviation extremes for bell curve analysis in Google Sheets, using specific formulas to determine the -3 and +3 deviations from the mean.

Next, create a sequence of numbers that will be used for the X-axis of the bell curve using the formula: =sequence(High-Low+1,1,Low).

Insert a new column to the right of your exam scores and label it ‘Sequence.’ Then copy the formula ‘=sequence(H2-G2+1,1,G2)’ and paste it into cell C2.

Step-by-step guide on creating an X-axis sequence for bell curve plotting in Google Sheets, using the SEQUENCE function to ensure accurate graph scaling.

Now let’s calculate the normal distribution using the formula: =ArrayFormula(NORM.DIST(Data Cell Range ,Average,Standard Deviation,false)).

In this example, copy the formula ‘=ArrayFormula(NORM.DIST(C2:C57,$E$2,$F$2,false))’ and paste it in cell D2.

Comprehensive methodology for calculating normal distribution in Google Sheets using ARRAYFORMULA and NORM.DIST functions, essential for accurate bell curve representation.

We now have all the required fields to create our bell curve.

Creating The Bell Curve

To create a bell curve in Google Sheets, you must chart your data. This method is quite straightforward and allows you to quickly visualize a normal distribution of your data.

Start by selecting columns C and D.

Highlighting the cells with data to be used for the chart in a Google Sheets document.

Insert a chart: Click on Insert > Chart to add a new chart in your Google Sheets document.

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Using the Insert > Chart option in Google Sheets to add a new chart.

In the Chart editor sidebar, select the Chart type dropdown menu and choose Scatter Chart.

Selecting 'Scatter Chart' from the Chart type dropdown in the Chart editor sidebar in Google Sheets.

Leverage AI for Bell Curve Formulas & Charts

You can use Coefficient’s free GPT Copilot to automatically create the Google Sheets formulas and charts you need to create your bell curve.

First, you’ll need to install the free Google Sheets Extension. You can get started with GPT Copilot here.

After you submit your email, follow along, and accept the prompts to install. Once the installation is finished, navigate to Extensions on the Google Sheets menu. Coefficient will be available as an add-on.

Now launch the app. Coefficient will run on the sidebar of your Google Sheet. Select GPT Copilot on the Coefficient sidebar.

 use the Coefficient GPT Copilot’s Formula builder to calculate the number of comments per post

Then click Formula Builder.

select formula builder

Type a description of a formula into the text box. For this example, we’ve not had issues creating our mean, standard deviation, or high and low formulas. But, we’ve gotten stuck with the format of our sequence formula.

Simply type: Sort dates in column A in sheet9 by most recent date.

Then press ‘Build’. Formula Builder will automatically generate your sort formula.

And, it’s that easy! Simply, place the formula in the desired cell.

You can also use GPT Copilot’s Chart Builder to then build your bell curve for you.

Conclusion

By following these steps, you have successfully prepared your data for creating a bell curve in Google Sheets.

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Hannah Recker Growth Marketer
Hannah Recker was a data-driven growth marketer before partying in the data became a thing. In her 12 years experience, she's become fascinated with the way data enablement amongst teams can truly make or break a business. This fascination drove her to taking a deep dive into the data industry over the past 4 years in her work at StreamSets and Coefficient.
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