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Excel VAR Function

The VAR function in Excel estimates the variance of a sample of data, while ignoring empty cells, text and logical values.  This step by step tutorial will assist all levels of Excel users in the usage and syntax of the VAR function.

Figure 1. Final result: Excel VAR function

Final formula: =VAR(B3:B7)

Syntax of the VAR Function

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

  • number1 – any number, array or cell reference representing a sample of a population whose variance we want to calculate
  • Only number1 is required; succeeding numbers are optional

Setting up the Data

We have here a list of Scores in column B.  We want to calculate the variance of our data in cell E2.

Figure 2. Sample data to calculate variance using VAR function

Calculate variance using VAR function

In order to calculate the variance of the sample of data, we follow these steps:

Step 1. Select cell E2

Step 2. Enter the formula: =VAR(B3:B7)

Step 3. Press Enter

The range B3:B7 contains our data.  The VAR formula calculates the variance and returns 7.30 in cell E2.  

Figure 3. Output: Calculate variance using VAR function

Notes:

  • VAR function ignores the following: empty cells, logical values {TRUE or FALSE}, text values
  • In order to evaluate logical values or text, we use the VARA function
  • We use VAR when we have a sample of the data; if our data represents the entire population, we use VARP

Below example shows four more cells are added into our list of scores: a text value, an empty cell, and logical values TRUE and FALSE.  Note that the resulting variance calculated by the VAR function is still 7.30, which is the same as in our previous example.

Figure 4. Output: VAR function ignores blank cells, text and logical values

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