The Average Function in Excel Explained (with Examples)

The AVERAGE function in Excel does exactly what you think it should. It computes the mathematical average of a set of numbers. In other words, it adds up a set of numbers and then divides the sum by how many numbers are being averaged.

Let’s review a couple of ways you can use the AVERAGE function in Excel.

Manually type the numbers

The first is to manually type the numbers you want to average in a list, separated by commas. Here’s an example:

=AVERAGE(10,20,30,40)

The result of this formula is (10+20+30+40) divided by 4 which equals 25.

Specify a range of numbers

A second way to use the AVERAGE function in Excel is to specify a range of numeric cells. Here’s an example of averaging numbers in a column:

=AVERAGE(A1:A5)

You can also average the numbers in a row:

=AVERAGE(A1:E1)

Finally, you can average a range of numbers crossing columns and rows:

=AVERAGE(A1:E5)

Mix up ranges and numbers

The AVERAGE function in Excel even allows you to mix manually typed numbers and ranges. Here’s an example:

=AVERAGE(A1:A5,10,C2,20)

Check out our Excel Lesson Videos to learn how to use more common mathematical functions in Excel.

Selecting a range of cells with your mouse

If you don’t like having to type the cell ranges in your AVERAGE function in Excel, you can use a variation of the AutoSum button (found on the Home tab in Excel) to select the range of cells with your mouse.

To do this, click in the cell where you want to use the AVERAGE function. Then click the drop-down arrow just to the right of the AutoSum button. From the list of options that pops up, choose Average.

Excel will take its best guess as to what range of cells you want to average based on the existing data in your spreadsheet. If you agree with Excel’s guess, just hit enter to complete your AVERAGE formula in Excel.

Otherwise, use your mouse to click on the first cell you want included in your AVERAGE formula’s range. Then drag the mouse to the last cell you want included and release the mouse button. Excel will visually show you the range you have selected as well as show you a preview of what your AVERAGE formula will look like. Hit enter to complete your AVERAGE formula in Excel.

As you can see, the AVERAGE function in Excel is quite flexible and makes it easy to find the average of a list of numbers in your spreadsheet.