# How to Calculate Percentiles in Excel Using Formula?

Microsoft Excel is a powerful tool for data analysis, and **percentile calculations** are among its most valuable functions. Understanding how to calculate and use percentiles in Excel can help you interpret data more effectively. In this guide, we will explain everything you need to know about Excel percentile formulas, how to apply them, and when to use them for accurate data analysis.

## What Is a Percentile?

A **percentile** is a measure used in statistics that indicates the value below which a given percentage of observations in a dataset fall. For example, the 70th percentile is the value below which 70% of the data points are found. Percentiles are commonly used in standardized testing, economics, and various other fields where data distribution is analyzed.

## Why Are Percentiles Important?

Understanding percentiles is crucial for making sense of large datasets. **Percentile ranks** provide insight into how individual values compare to the rest of the data. For instance, if you score in the 90th percentile on a test, you performed better than 90% of the test-takers.

## Excel Percentile Formulas

Excel offers several formulas to calculate percentiles. The most commonly used are **PERCENTILE.INC**, **PERCENTILE.EXC**, and **PERCENTRANK.INC**. Each has specific uses depending on your data analysis needs.

### PERCENTILE.INC Formula

The **PERCENTILE.INC** function in Excel returns the k-th percentile of values in a range, where k is a value between 0 and 1 (inclusive). This function includes both the smallest and largest values in the dataset.

**Syntax:**

`=PERCENTILE.INC(array, k)`

**array**: The range of data values.**k**: The percentile value between 0 and 1.

**Example:**

If you have a dataset in cells A1 to A10 and want to calculate the 75th percentile, the formula would be:

`=PERCENTILE.INC(A1:A10, 0.75)`

This formula will return the value below which 75% of the data points fall.

### PERCENTILE Function in Excel

The **PERCENTILE** function in Excel is an older version of the **PERCENTILE.INC** function. It was used in earlier versions of Excel and performs a similar calculation, returning the k-th percentile of values in a range.

**Syntax:**

`=PERCENTILE(array, k)`

**array**: The range of data values.**k**: The percentile value between 0 and 1.

**Example:**

If you have a dataset in cells A1 to A10 and want to calculate the 50th percentile (median), the formula would be:

`=PERCENTILE(A1:A10, 0.5)`

This formula will return the value at the 50th percentile, which is also the median in this case.

#### Difference Between PERCENTILE and PERCENTILE.INC

The **PERCENTILE** function is functionally equivalent to **PERCENTILE.INC**. However, **PERCENTILE** is maintained in Excel primarily for backward compatibility. In modern Excel versions, **PERCENTILE.INC** is preferred because it is more explicit about the inclusion of the smallest and largest values in the dataset.

**When to Use:** If you’re working with older Excel versions or need compatibility with legacy spreadsheets, you might still encounter or use the **PERCENTILE** function. For all other purposes, it’s advisable to use **PERCENTILE.INC** for better clarity.

### PERCENTILE.EXC Formula

The **PERCENTILE.EXC** function works similarly to **PERCENTILE.INC** but excludes the smallest and largest values in the dataset. This is useful when you want to avoid outliers or when your dataset needs more refined analysis.

**Syntax:**

`=PERCENTILE.EXC(array, k)`

**array**: The range of data values.**k**: The percentile value between 0 and 1 (exclusive).

**Example:**

Using the same dataset in cells A1 to A10, to calculate the 90th percentile excluding the smallest and largest values, the formula would be:

`=PERCENTILE.EXC(A1:A10, 0.90)`

This formula gives a more conservative percentile rank by ignoring the extremes.

## When to Use PERCENTILE.INC vs. PERCENTILE.EXC

**Use PERCENTILE.INC**when you need to include the full range of data, especially in cases where every data point is significant.**Use PERCENTILE.EXC**when you want to avoid skewing results with extreme outliers or when your dataset has many values, and you need a more precise analysis.

## Understanding the PERCENTRANK.INC Formula

The **PERCENTRANK.INC** function in Excel calculates the relative standing of a value within a dataset. Instead of returning the value at a particular percentile, it tells you what percentile rank a specific value falls into.

**Syntax:**

`=PERCENTRANK.INC(array, x, [significance])`

**array**: The range of data values.**x**: The value for which you want the rank.**significance**: Optional. The number of significant digits to be returned.

**Example:**

If you want to know the percentile rank of the value in cell B2 within the dataset A1:A10, the formula would be:

`=PERCENTRANK.INC(A1:A10, B2)`

This will return a value between 0 and 1, representing the percentile rank of B2 within the dataset.

## Comparing Percentile and PercentRank Functions

Function | Purpose | When to Use |
---|---|---|

PERCENTILE.INC | Returns the value at a specific percentile within a data range. | Use when you need the actual data value at a certain percentile. |

PERCENTILE.EXC | Returns the value at a specific percentile, excluding outliers. | Use when your dataset includes extreme values you want to ignore. |

PERCENTRANK.INC | Provides the percentile rank of a specific data value within a range. | Use when you need to know the rank of a particular value. |

## Practical Applications of Percentile Formulas in Excel

### Analyzing Test Scores

One of the most common uses of percentile calculations is in the analysis of test scores. Educators can use percentiles to determine how a student’s performance compares to that of their peers.

**Example:**

If a teacher has the test scores of 50 students and wants to find out the score that represents the 90th percentile, they can use:

`=PERCENTILE.INC(A1:A50, 0.90)`

This will show the score above which only 10% of the students scored.

### Financial Analysis

Percentiles are also useful in financial analysis, particularly in risk assessment. For instance, a financial analyst might use percentiles to determine the performance of a particular stock relative to the market.

**Example:**

If an analyst has the annual returns of 100 stocks, they could use the 25th percentile to identify the performance level below which 25% of the stocks fall:

`=PERCENTILE.EXC(A1:A100, 0.25)`

This helps in identifying underperforming stocks and making informed investment decisions.

### Employee Performance Evaluation

Businesses can use percentile formulas to evaluate employee performance. By ranking employees based on sales figures or other performance metrics, companies can identify top performers.

**Example:**

To rank employees based on their sales numbers and determine which employees are in the top 10%, you could use:

`=PERCENTRANK.INC(A1:A100, B2)`

If the result is 0.90 or higher, the employee is in the top 10%.

## Common Errors When Using Percentile Formulas

When working with percentile formulas, users may encounter some common errors:

**Incorrect Array Reference:**Ensure that the array range in your formula is correct. A wrong reference can lead to inaccurate results.**K Value Outside the Valid Range:**For**PERCENTILE.INC**, k must be between 0 and 1. For**PERCENTILE.EXC**, k must be between 0 and 1 but not include 0 or 1.**Data with Non-Numeric Values:**Percentile calculations require numeric data. If your dataset contains text or non-numeric values, Excel will return an error.

## Tips for Accurate Percentile Calculations

**Clean Your Data:**Remove any non-numeric values or outliers that may skew your results.**Check Data Range:**Always double-check the data range used in your formulas to ensure accuracy.**Use the Correct Formula:**Choose between**PERCENTILE.INC**and**PERCENTILE.EXC**based on whether or not you want to include outliers.

## Advanced Uses of Percentile Formulas in Excel

While basic percentile calculations are helpful, Excel’s versatility allows for more complex applications. Here are a few advanced uses:

### Conditional Formatting Based on Percentiles

You can use conditional formatting to highlight values in your dataset that fall within certain percentiles.

**Example:**

To highlight the top 10% of values in a dataset:

- Select the data range.
- Go to
**Home > Conditional Formatting > New Rule**. - Choose
**Use a formula to determine which cells to format**. - Enter the formula:

`=A1>=PERCENTILE.INC($A$1:$A$100, 0.90)`

- Choose your formatting options and apply.

### Combining Percentile with Other Functions

Percentile calculations can be combined with other functions like **IF**, **AVERAGE**, or **MEDIAN** for more detailed analysis.

**Example:**

To calculate the average of values above the 75th percentile in a dataset:

`=AVERAGE(IF(A1:A100>PERCENTILE.INC(A1:A100, 0.75), A1:A100))`

This formula calculates the average of values that are above the 75th percentile, providing insight into the upper segment of your data.

## Final Thoughts

Percentile formulas in Excel are indispensable tools for data analysis, helping to provide context and meaning to raw numbers. Whether you are evaluating test scores, analyzing financial data, or assessing employee performance, understanding how to use **PERCENTILE.INC**, **PERCENTILE.EXC**, and **PERCENTRANK.INC** can significantly enhance your analytical capabilities. By mastering these functions, you can ensure that your data analysis is accurate, insightful, and actionable.

## FAQs

### What is the PERCENTILE.INC formula in Excel?

The PERCENTILE.INC formula in Excel returns the k-th percentile of values in a range, where k is a value between 0 and 1, including the smallest and largest values in the dataset.

### How does PERCENTILE.EXC differ from PERCENTILE.INC?

PERCENTILE.EXC excludes the smallest and largest values in the dataset when calculating the k-th percentile, making it more suitable when you need to ignore extreme outliers.

### What does PERCENTRANK.INC do in Excel?

PERCENTRANK.INC in Excel calculates the relative standing of a value within a dataset by returning the percentile rank of that specific value.

### When should I use PERCENTILE.INC vs. PERCENTILE.EXC?

Use PERCENTILE.INC when you need to include all data points, especially when dealing with small datasets or when every value is significant. Use PERCENTILE.EXC when you want to exclude outliers or have a large dataset requiring more refined analysis.

### Can I use percentiles for financial analysis in Excel?

Yes, percentiles are very useful in financial analysis for risk assessment, performance comparison, and identifying trends by analyzing stock returns, market performance, and other financial metrics.

### What are some common errors to avoid when using Excel percentile formulas?

Common errors include incorrect array references, using a k value outside the valid range, and having non-numeric values in your dataset. Always ensure your data is clean and your formula references are accurate.

Vaishvi Desai is the founder of Excelsamurai and a passionate Excel enthusiast with years of experience in data analysis and spreadsheet management. With a mission to help others harness the power of Excel, Vaishvi shares her expertise through concise, easy-to-follow tutorials on shortcuts, formulas, Pivot Tables, and VBA.