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Place People on Bell Curve


June 19, 2018 - by Bill Jelen

Place People on Bell Curve

Jimmy in Huntsville wants to plot a bell curve showing the average scores of several people. When Jimmy asked the question during my Power Excel Seminar, I thought back to one of my more popular videos on YouTube.

In Podcast 1665 - Create a Bell Curve in Excel, I explain that to create a bell curve, you need to calculate the mean and standard deviation. I then generate 30 points along the x-axis that span a hypothetical population of people. In that video, I generated that spanned from -3 Standard Deviations to + 3 Standard Deviations around a mean.

For example, if you have a mean of 50 and a standard deviation of 10, I would create an x-axis that ran from 70 to 130. The height of each point is calculated using =NORM.DIST(x,mean,standard deviation,False).

Generate a bell curve
Generate a bell curve

In the image above, the numbers in A10:A40 are essentially "fake data points". I generate 31 numbers to create a nice smooth curve. If I would have used only 7 data points, the curve would look like this:

Using fewer data points, the bell curve still works
Using fewer data points, the bell curve still works

For Jimmy's data set, the actual average scores of his employees are essentially points along an x-axis. To fit them on a bell curve, you need to figure out the height or Y-value for each employee.

Follow these steps:

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