A “bell curve” is the nickname given to the shape of a normal distribution, which has a distinct “bell” shape:
The following step-by-step example shows how to make a bell curve in Google Sheets for a given mean and standard deviation.
Step 1: Define the Mean & Standard Deviation
First, we’ll define the values for the mean and standard deviation of a given normal distribution:
Step 2: Define Percentiles
Next, we’ll define the percentiles to use in the plot ranging from -4 to 4 in increments of 0.1:
Step 3: Define Data Values
Next, we’ll create a column of data values to use in the plot using the following formula:
Step 4: Find the values for the Normal Distribution PDF
Next, we’ll use the following formula to find the values for the normal distribution probability density function:
Step 5: Create the Bell Curve
Lastly, we can highlight the values in the range B5:C85, then click Insert and then click Chart.
The following bell curve will automatically be created:
You’ll notice that if you change the mean and standard deviation, the bell curve will update automatically.
For example, here’s what the bell curve turns into if we use mean = 10 and standard deviation = 2:
Feel free to modify the chart title, add axis labels, and change the color if you’d like to make the chart more aesthetically pleasing.
The following tutorials offer additional information about the normal distribution:
An Introduction to the Normal Distribution
6 Real-Life Examples of the Normal Distribution
Normal CDF Calculator