The Excel VAR function estimates the variance of a sample of data. If data represents the entire population, use the VARP function or the newer VAR.P function. VAR ignores text values and logicals in references.


Get variation of a sample

Return value 

Computed variance


  • number1 - First number or reference.
  • number2 - [optional] Second number or reference.

How to use 

The VAR function estimates the variance for a sample of data. Variance provides a general idea of the spread of data.  In the example shown, the formula in F4 is:


VAR ignores text and logicals passed into as cell references. For example, VAR will ignore FALSE when it appears in a range like A1:A10. However, VAR will evaluate logical values, and text representations of numbers hardcoded directly as arguments.

Note: Microsoft classifies VAR as a "compatibility function", now replaced by the VAR.S function.

Variation functions in Excel

The table below summarizes the variation functions available in Excel.

Name Data set Text and logicals
VAR Sample Ignored
VARP Population Ignored
VAR.S Sample Ignored
VAR.P Population Ignored
VARA Sample Evaluated
VARPA Population Evaluated


  • VAR assumes arguments a sample of data, not entire population. If data represents the entire population, use VAR or VAR.P
  • VAR only evaluates numbers in references, ignoring empty cells, text, and logical values like TRUE or FALSE.
  • Arguments can either be numbers or names, arrays, or references that contain numbers.
  • Arguments can be hard-coded values instead of references.
  • To evaluate logical values and/or text in references, use the VARA function.
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Dave Bruns

Hi - I'm Dave Bruns, and I run Exceljet with my wife, Lisa. Our goal is to help you work faster in Excel. We create short videos, and clear examples of formulas, functions, pivot tables, conditional formatting, and charts.