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Excel 2019: Create a Bell Curve in Excel


March 26, 2019 - by Bill Jelen

Create a Bell Curve. Photo Credit: Chris Barbalis at Unsplash.com

I have 2200 Excel videos on YouTube. I can never predict which ones will be popular. Many videos hover around 2,000 views. But for some reason, the Bell Curve video collected half a million views. I am not sure why people need to create bell curves, but here are the steps.

A bell curve is defined by an average and a standard deviation. In statistics, 68% of the population will fall within one standard deviation of the mean. 95% falls within two standard deviations of the mean. 99.73% will fall within three standard deviations of the mean.

Say that you want to plot a bell curve that goes from 100 to 200 with the peak at 150. Use 150 as the mean. Since most of the results will fall within 3 standard deviations of the mean, you would use a standard deviation of 50/3 or 16.667.


  1. Type 150 in cell B1.
  2. Type =50/3 in cell B2.
  3. Type headings of Point, X, Y in cells A4:C4.
  4. Fill the numbers 1 to 61 in A5:A65. This is enough points to create a smooth curve.

    This spreadsheet shows the cells described in the four steps above.
  5. Go to the midpoint of the data, point 31 in B35. Type a formula there of =B1 to have the mean there.
  6. The formula for B36 is =B35+($B$2/10). Copy that formula from row 36 down to row 65.
  7. The formula for B34 is =B34-($B$2/10). Copy that formula up to row 5. Note that the notes in columns C:E of this figure do not get entered in your workbook - they are here to add meaning to the figure.

    The bell curve will have 61 points. Put the Mean in the middle (31st) point. From there, each cell below is 1/10 the standard deviation more than the previous row. Each cell above is 1/10 the standard deviation less than the next row.

    The magic function is called NORM.DIST which stands for Normal Distribution. When statisticians talk about a bell curve, they are talking about a normal distribution. To continue the current example, you want a bell curve from 100 to 200. The numbers 100 to 200 go along the X-axis (the horizontal axis) of the chart. For each point, you need to calculate the height of the curve along the y-axis. NORM.DIST will do this for you. There are four required arguments: =NORM.DIST(This x point, Mean, Standard Deviation, False). The last False says that you want a bell curve and not a S-curve. (The S-Curve shows accumulated probability instead of point probability.)

  8. Type =NORM.DIST(B5,$B$1,$B$2,False) in C5 and copy down to row 65.

    Using the X values from the previous image, calculate Y values using NORM.DIST. The function returns very small numbers at the left and right end of the bell curve, peaking at the midpoint.
  9. Select B4:C65. On the Insert tab, open the XY-Scatter drop-down menu and choose the thumbnail with a smooth line. Alternatively, choose Recommened Charts and the first option for a bell curve.

    On the Insert tab, there are five thumbnails in the XY-Scatter chart drop-down. You want the second thumbnail which has points and smooth lines.

The result: a bell curve, as shown here.

This bell curve extends from 100 to 200 with the peak at 150.

Title Photo: Chris Barbalis at Unsplash.com


Bill Jelen is the author / co-author of
MrExcel LX – The Holy Grail of Excel Tips

A book for people who use Excel 40+ hours per week. Illustrated in full color.