Statistics How To

Cumulative Frequency Distribution Table: Make one in Easy Steps

Probability and Statistics > Descriptive Statistics > Cumulative Frequency Distribution Table

Cumulative Frequency Distribution Table: Overview

Watch the video or read the steps below:

In elementary statistics, you might be given a histogram and asked to determine the cumulative frequency distribution. Or, you might be given a frequency distribution table and asked to find the cumulative frequency. The method for both is the same, and the answer can be found in a couple of easy steps.

Like the explanation? Check out our easy to follow book, which has hundreds more examples, just like this one.

Cumulative Frequency Distribution Table: Steps

Sample question: Build a cumulative frequency distribution table for the following classes.

cumulative frequency distribution table

  • Step 2: Build a frequency distribution table, like the one to the right of the histogram above. Label column 1 with your class limits. In column 2, count the number of items in each class and fill the columns in as shown above. To fill in the columns, count how many items are in each class, using the histogram.
  • Step 3:Label a new column in your frequency distribution table “Cumulative frequency” and compute the first two entries. The first entry will be the same as the first entry in the frequency column. The second entry will be the sum of the first two entries in the frequency column (highlighted in red).


  • Step 4: Fill in the rest of the cumulative frequency column.  The third entry will be the sum of the first three entries in the frequency column, the fourth will be the sum of the first four entries in the frequency column etc.

Cumulative Frequency 3

  • You’re done! Like the explanation? Check out our statistics how-to book, with a how-to for every elementary statistics problem type.

Check out our YouTube channel for more stats help!

If you prefer an online interactive environment to learn R and statistics, this free R Tutorial by Datacamp is a great way to get started. If you’re are somewhat comfortable with R and are interested in going deeper into Statistics, try this Statistics with R track.

Cumulative Frequency Distribution Table: Make one in Easy Steps was last modified: June 25th, 2017 by Stephanie

26 thoughts on “Cumulative Frequency Distribution Table: Make one in Easy Steps

  1. Angie Widdows

    I can say that I understand the concept of a histogram but I am still having a little trouble with this concept. I guess what I really do not understnad is the concept of cumulative freqency. What is the reason for needing to know this. I guess I am having a hard time relating it to real life. I think I will keep checking back to this post to see anyone else’s comments. Possibly, something they might add would help me.

  2. Stephanie

    There are literally thousands of real life applications, from cancer statistics to immigration and the stock market. However, when you’re just starting to learn about cumulative frequency, rather than present you with, say, financial market statistics (which can look ominous–just pick up a copy of the Wall Street Journal!) or cancer statistics (which even confuse doctors! see this article–You’re Not The Only One Confused About Probability–where 95% of physicians got the answer to a question about the probability of breast cancer wrong–) we use simplified examples (like cards and dice rolling).

  3. Lauren Schultz

    This helped me out alot. I always had trouble in decifering which chart used the class limits and which ones used the class boundaries. This led me through step by step with pics, which helped alot, and helped me out alot on my homework.

  4. Mark McCrea

    I can see how a histogram can relate to life. The histogram can be us to the growth of the population, marketing is function from year to year, and can even use in how much food has been grown in the pass year.

  5. Lisa Barcomb

    I see that a histogram can relate to our everyday living in life. A histogram can be used for many things in life such as; the population, counting the numbers, seeing how many people cheat on their taxes etc. This is a good thing to know and when the diagram is there and you are actually working with it, it really does help you a lot.

  6. Lisa Barcomb

    Yeah this part of statistics was enjoyable, because it helped when we had the diagrams and it explained everything really clear so since we are beginning learners of statistics this was a big help and I am speaking for myself.

  7. Charlotte

    This really helped me but I was asked to see how many people participated in a golfing tournament and I filled out the table with ease but should I just count how many slots there are or do something different? This really helped me though so thanks a million! :)

  8. Andale

    I’d have to see the actual question, but yes — it would have something to do with the number of slots. If you can post it on the forum, you’ll get a faster answer from our moderator :)

    Glad it helped!

  9. Melinda

    yeah im looking for help on figuring this out and helping me understand abit more clearer:

    Event: 1-4,5-8,9-12
    study time(hrs): ?,?,?,
    # of hours MTH 1080 students studied for the final: 1,3,3,4,6,6,7,7,8,10

    it was an in-class example and i don’t see how they came up with the answers the ydid for the study time(hrs.). CAN YOU HELP ME?

  10. Andale

    Hi, Melinda,

    Unfortunately my work schedule doesn’t give me the time to answer stats questions in the comments. But if you’d like to post your question on the forum (, one of our mods will be happy to help!


  11. Dr. Stephen Mayiel

    Drawing of cumulative frequency distribution table in statistic is helping a lot in sorting and analyzing a complex data.

    Cumulative frequency is used to determine the number of observations that lie above (or below) a particular value.

    The cumulative frequency is found from a stem and leaf table or a frequency distribution table by adding each frequency to the sum of its predecessor.

    The last value will always equal the total for all observations, as all frequencies will have been added.

  12. Andale


    If you’re getting stuck, feel free to ask a question on our forums (click the forums tab above). Hopefully they can help you out!


  13. Maria

    i still find it difficult using cumulative frequency. i guess i dont get the point in needing to know this. my mother doesnt know any of this. my father doesnt. i have asked all of my family and the remember nothing of this in school and has never had to use something like this in everyday life. maths can be helpful to a certain extent. but to be perfectly honest. this is just getting ridiculous. please state your point if you disagree but i dont think i will change my views. :) thanks for the helpful notes :) even though i and many others think this is pointless i still have to use it for a statistical assignment. i have failed all my maths nabs and prelims. if this doesnt get handed in i cannot do the actual exam.thank you for explaining as my teacher does nothing about it. she expects me to find help in a textbook she didnt give me because i was off that week so… yeah thanks :) i reckon school as a whole is getting down right ridiculous. and you may just think this is because i am a teenager and hate school, but that is not the only reason. school is starting to get OVER… i dont know… they teach us things we dont need to know, excuse me for this comparison but in the jungle, a tiger will teach its cub how to do the neccasery things in life e.g. hunt, fight. me knowing what 1/3 of 3.14 is isnt neccassary. generations before us have managed to live there lifes pretty well without knowing this. School and the SQA are putting good, intellegent people down because of there grades. i have good common sense basic maths and english and have managed to get myself three jobs. now when i leave the school with the grades i probably have now, i have no ambition. no choice for ambition. nothing. but i will still thrive to be an amazing human being and one of the few with natural common sense and survival skills. We need to go back to the old ways and try to make sense of whats going on with the world were woman do MANUAL labour! yes. i said it. we women need to fight for our countries and become stronger and stop pussy footing around with make up and going “eeeeeeewwwwwwwwwwwwww” get a grip of yersels >:L our generation can be the one that sorts this shit out and gives us a damn good name or just another lot of folks that follow everyone else. please stand up and show your true personallities. :I this comment kind of goes of track so um im sorry for spelling and all that :L and well done if you managed to read it :o)

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