Explain the Mean, Mode & Median

By Michael Keenan; Updated April 24, 2017
Calculate an average by finding the mean, median or mode.

Mathematicians and researchers often have large sets of data collected on a certain problem, such as the household income of American families. To summarize the data, they often use the mean, median and mode.

Mean

The mean is the average of all numbers in a data set. For example, in the data set {1,1,2,3,6,7,8}, add the total and divide by seven, the number of items in the data set. The calculation would show that the average is four.

Mode

The mode is the most commonly occurring number in a data set. In the data set {1,1,2,3,6,7,8}, the mode would be one because it appears more than any other number.

Median

The median is the middle number in the data set. For example, given the data set {1,1,2,3,6,7,8}, the median is three because there are an equal amount of numbers greater than three and less than three.

About the Author

Mark Kennan is a writer based in the Kansas City area, specializing in personal finance and business topics. He has been writing since 2009 and has been published by "Quicken," "TurboTax," and "The Motley Fool."