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Excel DSTDEV Function

The Excel DSTDEV function is a built-in database function. It returns the estimated value of a population’s standard deviation based on a sample by using the values from the sample database that match the given criteria you specify.

dstdev function 1

Just like the DSTDEVP function, the DSTDEV function is also a built-in database function in Excel. The only difference between the two functions is their calculation purposes.

  1. The DSTDEV function returns the standard deviation of a sample.

    dstdev function 2

  2. The DSTDEVP function returns the standard deviation of the entire population.

    dstdev function 3


=DSTDEV (database, field, criteria)


  • Database (required): Database range with headers included.
  • Field (required): Column name, index number, or cell reference to count.
  • Criteria (required): Criteria range with headers included.

Return value

Numeric value.

The DSTDEV function returns the estimated value of the standard deviation of a population based on a sample.

Function notes

  1. The DSTDEV function is used on a sample database to estimate the standard deviation of a population. If data represent the entire population, the DSTDEVP function is the one to use.
  2. The field argument can be a column header by its name in quotation marks, the number that indicates the position of a specific column in the database, and the cell reference of a column header.
  3. The criteria argument can be any range of cells. But it must include at least one column label and at least one cell below the column label to specify the condition. Multi-row criteria are also accepted.
  4. A variety of expressions such as wildcards can be applied in the criteria argument. Here are some examples.

    dstdev function 5

  5. The purpose of the criteria argument is to filter the database and specify which records should be calculated.
  6. The column headers in the criteria range must be included in the database range.
  7. In theory, the criteria range can be located anywhere on the worksheet . But it is recommended not to be placed under the data list, in case more data need to be added.


As the below screenshot shows, how to calculate the sample standard deviation and get the estimated standard deviation of the entire population? You can do as follows to achieve the goal.

dstdev function 6

Copy the formula below into cell F7 and press the Enter key to get the result.

=DSTDEV (B3:D11, 3, F3:G4)

dstdev function 7

dstdev function 8


  1. In the above formula, we use the number that indicates the position of the sales column in the database range as the field argument, which is 3 since the sales column is at the 3rd position.
  2. We can change the value in the field argument to the column header name enclosed in quotation marks. In this case, the input value becomes “sales” in the field argument. And the formula becomes:

    =DSTDEV (B3:D11, "sales" , F3:G4)

  3. The field argument can also be entered as a cell reference, which is D3 in this case. So the formula changes to:

    =DSTDEV (B3:D11, D3 , F3:G4)

  4. If no rows match the criteria, a #DIV/0! Error will be returned.

    dstdev function 9

  5. The syntax arguments of the DSTDEVP and DSTDEV functions are the same. As the screenshots below show, we used the same data, applied the same criteria, and returned the results from the same column. But the two results are different. The reason is that the population standard deviation is calculated differently from the sample standard deviation.

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