This is an archived version of the Handbook. For the current version, please go to or search for this chapter here.  Ranges

Ranges are very unstable and, unlike other measures of variation, increase when the sample size increases. They describe the extremes of observed outcomes rather than the average variation. Ranges should not be used to estimate standard deviations. One common approach has been to make use of the fact that, with normally distributed data, 95% of values will lie within 2×SD either side of the mean. The SD may therefore be estimated to be approximately one quarter of the typical range of data values. This method is not robust and we recommend that it should not be used.