The coefficient of variation, or CV, is a statistical measure of the central tendency or dispersion of a data set. Unlike other measurements of central tendency, the CV is normalised. This makes it particularly well-suited for analysing data whose standard deviation tends to increase along with the mean.
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Enter the data to be analysed in one column of an Excel spreadsheet.
Use the Excel AVERAGE() function to calculate the mean of the data. In a blank cell on the spreadsheet, type "=AVERAGE(" (without quotes) and highlight all of the cells containing the data. Press "Enter" to see the mean of the data.
Use the Excel STDEV() function to calculate the standard deviation of the data. In a second empty cell, type "=STDEV(" (without quotes) and highlight the data. Press "Enter" to view the standard deviation of the data.
Divide the standard deviation by the mean: in a third empty cell, type "=" (without quotes) and click on the cell containing the standard deviation. Type "/" (without quotes) and click on the cell containing the mean. Press "Enter" to view the coefficient of variation.
Tips and warnings
- A low value of CV, such as 0.05, indicates low dispersion of the data set.
- The mean of the data must not be zero.
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