When and How To Find the Mean (With Examples)

Calculate mean, median, mode along with the minimum, maximum, range, count, and sum for a set of data.

Enter values separated by commas or spaces. You can also copy and paste lines of data from spreadsheets or text documents See all allowable formats in the table below.

You can find the mean, or average, of a data set in two simple steps:
  1. Find the sum of the values by adding them all up.
  2. Divide the sum by the number of values in the data set.

Math Antics – Mean, Median and Mode

Examples of how to find the mean

Here are some examples of scenarios when it might be useful to find the mean:

Example 1 — Evaluating sales

A local chicken sandwich restaurant has two locations. The managers of both locations want to quickly determine how much product the stores sell each day relative to one another, and although this information is available in their month-end reports, they are eager to know sooner.

The store managers can use a mean average to help determine which store sells more sandwiches each day. They decide to take data for one week before calculating their average. Over seven days, the first store sells the following quantities:

The manager of this store adds up the total number of sandwiches to get 2,747. They then divide by seven for a mean average of about 392 sandwiches per day.

The second store sells these quantities:

The manager of this store adds up these numbers for a total of 2,834. When they divide them by seven, they get a mean average of 405 sandwiches per day. The second store, therefore, sells more sandwiches on average every day than the first store.

Example 2 — Determining time off

A large tech company wants to know, on average, how many employees use their flexible time off on any given day. They keep track of daily absences for two weeks and determine that the following numbers of employees are out each day: 5, 5, 7, 3, 4, 6, 2, 6, 9 and 10. The HR manager adds these figures up to get 57. They then divide it by 10, the number of business days counted, for an average of 5.7 (rounded, 6) employees out on leave each day. The company then uses this information to determine whether they need to add hires to their staff.

Example 3 — Calculating forgotten items

A private preschool decides that it would be helpful to know, on average, how many students forget their snow pants each day in the winter. They keep track for three weeks and find that the following numbers of children forget their snow pants each day: 2, 2, 3, 1, 4, 5, 4, 6, 4, 3, 3, 0, 2, 3 and 3. They add these numbers together to get 45 and then divide by 15 to find that an average of three children forgets their snow pants each day. They can use this information when writing a grant for extra winter clothing to keep at school.

When to use mean calculations

Knowing the mean of a set of numbers can be useful in a variety of workplace roles, including management, production and human resources. You might also hear other terms such as median and mode when you are working on analyzing a set of data, and although these are also types of midpoint values, they all function somewhat differently. The mean average is the sum of all the values in your set, divided by the number of values present. Here are some times when you might need to find the mean:

Assigning salaries

The average salary for a particular role can help inform the rate you choose to pay certain employees, and you might need to gather salary data and make that calculation independently — especially if the role is particularly niche or if there is little data available. For example, you might find out from several other organizations that front-end developers make a range of salaries. You could then calculate the average of those salaries to determine what to pay for that position in your company.

Determining benefits

Knowing how to find the mean can be valuable when determining employee benefits as well. Calculating the mean average of different types of benefits available and associated dollar amounts might help set a baseline for the kinds and quantity of benefits you want to provide to your employees.

Sourcing materials

Calculating the mean can be a valuable skill when making purchasing decisions, such as sourcing materials. If you know the average cost of a particular material, you can better determine how its price fits with that average. If an item costs more or less than the average, you can consider evaluating the quality of that material and other factors like long-term availability to determine if you should make the purchase.

Setting prices

Knowing how to find the mean can be useful when you are deciding what prices to charge for merchandise and services. Depending on the product, consumers often have variable levels of tolerance for prices that differ significantly from the average, which makes it valuable to know what that average is. Comparing average prices for similar products in different locations can be useful as well, particularly for businesses with multiple locations.

Managing personnel

Some businesses, especially those with several locations, can also benefit from using the mean calculation to determine staffing levels within different departments or branches of the company. Calculating the mean number of personnel working on particular tasks at any given time can help inform staffing decisions as well. Business leaders might use the mean in these situations to evenly distribute staff across multiple locations, for example, or make adjustments to how many employees might be working on a particular task at a given time.

Tips for finding the mean

If you need to find the mean of a set of values, these tips can help:

Compare like data

To find an accurate mean average, it is important to collect and compare the same kind of data within the same value set. For example, if you are calculating the average number of apples sold in a grocery store, you wouldnt include pears unless you intended to expand your data set. Be mindful of the data you include to be sure your results help you in the way you intend.

Record your information carefully

When collecting data and calculating the mean, it is important to be as meticulous as you can. The more accurate your records, the more accurate your results will be. Consider double-checking your data set to be sure it is free from typos or other clerical errors.

Organize your data

It can be easier to find the mean if you organize your data efficiently. For example, you may find that it is faster to add large quantities of values if they are in order. You may also wish to record your information using a spreadsheet to keep your figures in order and to potentially automate your calculations.

FAQ

How do you find the mean of an answer?

The mean (average) of a data set is found by adding all numbers in the data set and then dividing by the number of values in the set. The median is the middle value when a data set is ordered from least to greatest. The mode is the number that occurs most often in a data set.

How do you calculate mean easily?

The mean is a type of average. It is the sum (total) of all the values in a set of data, such as numbers or measurements, divided by the number of values on the list. To find the mean, add up all the values in the set. Then divide the sum by how many values there are.

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