Microsoft Excel AVERAGE Function Tutorial

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Microsoft Excel AVERAGE Function Tutorial

Excel Function Tutorial

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The AVERAGE Function takes the average (arithmetic mean) of the values you give it.

What is the Microsoft Excel AVERAGE Function?

The AVERAGE function is a computer program that you run from a worksheet cell formula. It takes the average (arithmetic mean) of the values you give it. You run the AVERAGE function by typing its name in a formula then followed by the information it is suppose to average. The AVERAGE worksheet function is capable of looking at thousands of cell values at once. It replaces the cumbersome worksheet formula =(A1+A2+A3...)/n. The AVERAGE function is most commonly used to look across a row of numbers or down a column of numbers on the worksheet.

How Do You Type the AVERAGE Worksheet Function in a Formula?

Whenever you type a formula in a worksheet cell, this is called syntax or grammar. The general AVERAGE function syntax has a format like this when you type it in a worksheet cell:

=AVERAGE(number1,[number2], ...)

Where number1, [number2] ..... are called the function argument list. Remember, you are running a computer program at this point so the program needs information to operate and that is why there is an argument list. When you see an argument list and you see square brackets [ ] around the argument name, this means the argument is optional and you do not have to include it when typing unless you need it. So for the syntax above, you need to include one argument for the AVERAGE function when typing it in a worksheet cell formula in order for it to calculate correctly. How many arguments can be placed in the list is dependent upon the Excel version you are using. What argument values can be used are discussed below. Remember functions expect certain things in their argument lists, if you do not put the correct information in the list they will generate an error when run.

How Do You Run the AVERAGE Function?

Since the AVERAGE function is a computer program, it runs when you press Enter to enter the formula that contains it. If any of the arguments are wrong, the function will return an error.

What Do I Type for an AVERAGE Function Argument?

When typing the AVERAGE function in a worksheet cell formula, you need to replace the number1... argument list with arguments separating each one with a comma (,). Since the AVERAGE function averages numbers it expects numbers. Some typical arguments you can use are:

Argument Type Cell Formula Example Explanation
Cell Reference = AVERAGE( A1, B1 ) Finds the average of the cell values from A1 and B1
Range Reference = AVERAGE( A1:A10 ) Finds the average of the cell values between cells A1 and A10
Column Reference = AVERAGE( C:C ) Finds the average of the cell values from Column C
Row Reference = AVERAGE( 1:1 ) Finds the average of the cell values from Row 1
Numbers = AVERAGE( 100, 200, A1 ) Finds the average between 100, 200 and cell A1's value
Multiple Columns/Rows = AVERAGE( A1:A10, C1:C10 ) Finds the average of the cell values from A1 to A10 and from C1 to C10
Cell and Range Names = AVERAGE( Sales_2012 ) Finds the average of the cell values from the range named Sales_2012 *

* It is possible to name a cell or group of cells on a worksheet and use that name in place of a range reference or cell reference. Consult Excel help on how to name a cell.

Additional AVERAGE Function Examples

The worksheet seen below contains some typical worksheet formulas that run the AVERAGE worksheet function. Pay close attention to the argument list and the syntax used to write the formula.

1 Quantity = AVERAGE( A1:A4 ) Returns the average value from the range A1 to A4
2 100    
3 200
4 300    

Things to Know About the AVERAGE 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:

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 averaging cells, keep in mind the difference between empty cells and those containing the value zero, especially if you have cleared the Zero values check box on the View tab (Options command, Tools menu). Empty cells are not counted, but zero values are.

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