The Excel VAR.S function returns the variance of a sample. If data represents the entire population, use the VAR.P function. VAR.S 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.S function calculates the variance of a sample of data. Variance provides a general idea of the spread of data.  The VAR.S function can accept up to 254 arguments.

Note while VAR.S ignores text and logicals passed into as cell references, it will evaluate logical values, and text representations of numbers hardcoded directly as arguments. In other words, VAR.S will ignore FALSE when it appears in a range like A1:A10, but will evaluate FALSE when it is provided as an argument.

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.S assumes arguments a sample of data, not entire population. If data represents the entire population, use VAR.P.
  • VAR.S 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.