Error bar

Encyclopedia

**Error bars**are a graphical representation of the variability of data and are used on graphs to indicate the error, or uncertainty in a reported measurement. They give a general idea of how accurate a measurement is, or conversely, how far from the reported value the true (error free) value might be. Error bars often indicate one standard deviation

Standard deviation

Standard deviation is a widely used measure of variability or diversity used in statistics and probability theory. It shows how much variation or "dispersion" there is from the average...

of uncertainty, but may also indicate the standard error

Standard error (statistics)

The standard error is the standard deviation of the sampling distribution of a statistic. The term may also be used to refer to an estimate of that standard deviation, derived from a particular sample used to compute the estimate....

. These quantities are not the same and so the measure selected should be stated explicitly in the graph or supporting text.

Error bars can be used to compare visually two quantities if various other conditions hold. This can determine whether differences are statistically significant. Error bars can also show how good a statistical fit the data has to a given function. Scientific papers in the experimental sciences are expected to include error bars on all graphs, though the practice differs somewhat between sciences, and each journal will have its own house style.

## External links

- Using Error Bars in your Graph — North Carolina State UniversityNorth Carolina State UniversityNorth Carolina State University at Raleigh is a public, coeducational, extensive research university located in Raleigh, North Carolina, United States. Commonly known as NC State, the university is part of the University of North Carolina system and is a land, sea, and space grant institution...
- Is it better to plot graphs with SD or SEM error bars? (Answer: Neither)