How to Create a Cumulative Frequency Distribution Chart in Excel 2003

Updated February 21, 2017

A frequency distribution table is a chart used in statistics to show how often a particular category of items occurs; a cumulative frequency distribution table shows all of those frequencies, totalled. Microsoft Excel is the ideal medium for making a cumulative frequency distribution table. With a regular chart, you would have to add up the totals manually. However, Excel formulas can add up the totals for you automatically and dynamically.

Click cell A1 and type "Class Limits".

Click cell B1 and type "Frequency".

Click cell C1 and type "cumulative frequency".

Type the class limits (categories) for your data in column A, starting in cell A2 and continuing down the column. Enter one set of class limits per cell. For example, if your study is about IQ scores you might have class limits of 0-50, 51-100, and 101-150. Type "0-50" in cell A2, "51-100" in cell A3 and "101-150" in cell A4.

Type the frequencies in column B, starting in cell B2 and working down the column. A frequency is how often a particular item was found. For example, if you are studying the IQ scores for a group of 20 children, you might have frequencies of 5 children with IQ score between 0 and 50, 7 with IQ scores of 51 to 100 and 8 with IQ scores between 101 to 150. Type "5" in cell B2, "7" in cell B3 and "8" in cell B4.

Click cell C2, type an equal (=) sign and type the cell of the first frequency listed in column B. In this example, the first frequency is listed in cell B2, so type "=B2".

Click cell C3, type an equal (=) sign followed by "C2", a plus (+) sign and the location of the second frequency in column B. In this example, you would type "=C2+B3".

Click the fill handle at the bottom-right of cell C3. The fill handle looks like a little black square. Drag the fill handle down the column until it is equal with the last filled-in cell row in column A.


You can use the cumulative frequency table to draw a histogram, which is a graph of a cumulative frequency distribution chart. The histogram option can be accessed from the "Data Analysis" add-in, visible on the "Tools" tab.

Things You'll Need

  • Excel 2003
  • Existing data from a survey or experiment.
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About the Author

Stephanie Ellen teaches mathematics and statistics at the university and college level. She coauthored a statistics textbook published by Houghton-Mifflin. She has been writing professionally since 2008. Ellen holds a Bachelor of Science in health science from State University New York, a master's degree in math education from Jacksonville University and a Master of Arts in creative writing from National University.