Error bars in experimental biology

by Geoff Cumming, Fiona Fidler, David L. Vaux
The Journal of Cell Biology, Vol. 177, No. 1, April 9, 2007 7–11 ()


Error bars commonly appear in fi gures\nin publications, but experimental\nbiologists are often unsure how they\nshould be used and interpreted. In this\narticle we illustrate some basic features\nof error bars and explain how they can\nhelp communicate data and assist\ncorrect interpretation. Error bars may\nshow confi dence intervals, standard\nerrors, standard deviations, or other\nquantities. Different types of error bars\ngive quite different information, and so\nfi gure legends must make clear what\nerror bars represent. We suggest eight\nsimple rules to assist with effective use\nand interpretation of error bars.

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