**Please Note: **
This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007 and 2010. If you are using an earlier version (Excel 2003 or earlier), *this tip may not work for you*. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Excel, click here: Calculating a Geometric Standard Deviation.

Jim has a set of data on which he needs to calculate some statistical information. He uses built-in Excel functions to calculate many of these, such as the geometric mean. He cannot seem to figure out how to calculate the geometric standard deviation, however.

The place that a geometric mean is most often used (and, therefore, a geometric standard deviation) is when calculating investment returns over time, especially when the returns involve compound interest. How you calculate the geometric mean is rather easy—you use the GEOMEAN function built into Excel. How you calculate a geometric standard deviation, however, depends on which resource you are referencing.

One reference that explains the math behind a geometric standard deviation is found on Wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geometric_standard_deviation

Let's assume that you have calculated the compound annual growth rate for an investment for four years. Over those four years the rate is expressed as 1.15 (+15%), 0.9 (-10%), 1.22 (+22%), and 1.3 (+30%). If you place these values in cells A1:A4, then apply the simplest form of calculating geometric standard deviation found on the Wikipedia page, you would enter the following as an array formula:

=EXP(STDEV(LN(A1:A4)))

This provides a result of 1.1745, rounded to four decimal places. However, there is some muddiness, as evidenced in this mathematical treatise at the Motley Fool:

http://www.fool.com/workshop/2000/workshop000309.htm

Note that it references the results of the above formula as the "standard deviation of the log values," insisting that you need to add the average of the log values to the standard deviation and then use the EXP function, in this manner:

=EXP(STDEV(LN(A1:A4))+AVERAGE(LN(A1:A4)))

Again, this must be entered as an array formula. It provides a result of 1.3294, which is significantly different from what is returned using the simpler formula from Wikipedia. Which is the actual geometric standard deviation is apparently a matter of debate and, perhaps, dependent on a definition of terms.

*ExcelTips* is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training.
This tip (11208) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007 and 2010. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: **Calculating a Geometric Standard Deviation**.

**Create Custom Apps with VBA!** Discover how to extend the capabilities of Office 2013 (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and Access) with VBA programming, using it for writing macros, automating Office applications, and creating custom applications. Check out *Mastering VBA for Office 2013* today!

Excel is great at manipulating data, but sometimes it is difficult to figure out the best way to do the manipulation. ...

Discover MoreIf you have a series of values and you want to get a total of just the values that meet a specific criteria, then you ...

Discover MoreWhen working with data in Excel, you often need to determine if that data meets criteria that you specify. This tip ...

Discover More**FREE SERVICE:** Get tips like this every week in *ExcelTips,* a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

2016-01-13 20:29:15

What I need to understand is the following;

If instead of finding the GM of true value, you have values with measurement uncertainty std dev, how do you calculate the std deviation of the error of the GM

Thus if we have

X1,S1

X2,S2

X3,S3

X4,S4

Is it still the case that the GM is the forth root of X1*X2*X3*X4?

What is the Std Dev of the GM based on the uncertainty of each measurement?

2015-02-24 11:57:21

Lane

Example: B2 =LN(A2); B3 =LN(A3); ... B10 =LN(A10)

You would then replace "LN(A2:A10)" with "B2:B10".

Then the correct formula would be

=EXP(AVERAGE(B2:B10))

Sorry, my previous comment contained a different range because I copied and pasted from my own Excel spreadsheet and forgot to change the range to A2:A10 before submitting.

2015-02-24 11:32:26

Lane

=GEOMEAN(D3:D47)

=EXP(AVERAGE(LN(D3:D47)))

You state that they should give the same value, unless "equivalent" is not the same as "equal".

2014-07-15 20:37:21

Ben

The Motley Fool page you link to explicitly calculates "a return one GSD above average", which is why it adds the (geometric) average to the geometric standard deviation.

It is simply calculating the +1 SD geometric mean. It is not claiming that the result (32.15%) is the geometric standard deviation. The example it provides specifically calculates the geometric mean that is one standard deviation above the mean.

2014-02-23 14:49:38

Angus McLean

this is entered as an array formula. I do not know how to do that. WShy not explain it.

Angus

2013-05-29 11:57:15

Gary Schwager

2013-05-22 18:26:15

Peter Atherton

With the items in in the range B1:B7 i.e. thrree blanks in the range

In c1 type =IF(B1>0,LN(B1),"") and copy down

In C8 use the formula =EXP(STDEV(C1:C7)). this is not an array formula.

Further thoughts on the original article, the fools method surely refers to the upper boundry (the error level

2013-05-21 13:32:06

Nelson

Data for the analyzed elements is not available for all the samples. In other words, for each of the analyzed elements there are some blank cells. Replacement of those cells by a numerical value such as half the limit of detection to avoid the blank cells, is meaningless for me.

Is there a function (or script) in excel that can calculate the geometric mean and geometric standard deviation for each of the variables but considering that not all the cell are filled with numerical data (in other words some cell are blank).

Besides, I need to calculate this for each of the elements analyzed.

2012-02-03 20:47:27

Peter Atherton

Conversely, the standard deviation of the geometric mean will be higher than a normal standard deviation.

With regard to adding the mean to the std Dev, I think that should refer to confidence levels. Adding and subtracting 1.96std Dev to the mean gives a 95% confidence limit. The amount that we can expect a value to be.

2012-01-17 10:23:20

Tom Campanelli

Similarly, the geometric standard deviation is calculated by the following formula:

=10^STDEV(LOG(A2:A10)). Again this is entered as an array formula.

Since data is being multiplied instead of added, the logarithms of the data are used since adding logarithms is equivalent to multiplying the raw numbers. Substituting EXP for 10^ and LN for LOG will give the same results.

Got a version of Excel that uses the
ribbon interface (Excel 2007 or later)?
**This site is for you!** If you
use an earlier version of Excel, visit
our *ExcelTips* site focusing on the menu interface.

**FREE SERVICE:** Get tips like this every week in *ExcelTips,* a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

Copyright © 2020 Sharon Parq Associates, Inc.

## Comments