Generate Normally Distributed Data in Excel

Your goal

You need to randomly generate normally-distributed data in Excel.

Step-by-step tutorial

We will use Excel's NORM.INV and RAND functions.

Step 1: Place your random number formula in the target cells

In this example, we'll generate data with mean \(\mu = 100\) and standard deviation \(\sigma = 15\). The formula is =NORM.INV(RAND(), 100, 15):

Normally distributed data

Step 2 (optional): Plot a histogram

The histogram for a dataset with \(n = 30\):

Normally distributed data
Histogram of normally distributed data

In this case the main part of the mass is a bit under the mean of 100, and we have a surprising number of scores toward the top end of the range. Still this isn't that amazing since the dataset is pretty small. With a larger dataset we'd see more convergence toward a proper bell curve.