Google Sheets Charts: An Easy Guide to Making Beautiful Charts

 

A visually appealing and well-laid-out chart is at the heart of every project when it comes to visualization.

Luckily making charts in Google Sheets is easy, and you will create beautiful charts that visually display the data already stored in your Google Sheets file. Google Sheets Charts include numerous chart types, from simple bar and pie charts to more complex radar, treemap, and geo (using Google Maps) charts.

This Google Sheets Charts tutorial will provide you with the knowledge to create even the most complex charts on Google Sheets.

Creating a Chart

Creating a chart is super simple and can be done in two ways.

The first step in both methods is to select the data you would like to visualize (do this by clicking and dragging over the data range).

Highlighted data

For step two, you can either go to the menu bar and select Insert, then select chart in the dropdown menu.

Make a chart

The second option for step two is to select the Chart button in the toolbar.

Chart button

Google Sheets will then select the chart it feels your data fits. This is an automated process and can be incorrect at times. However, often this prediction may be correct. It will create a chart and use the data to fill in the title, legend, and axes. You will also notice that the Chart editor sidebar loads at this time.

Please note that if you close the Chart editor and then want to reopen it later, you can do so by double-clicking anywhere on the chart.

chart editor

Google Sheet Chart Types

Now that you have created a Google Sheets chart, let’s look at the various charts available in Google Sheets. We will begin with the most commonly used chart and work on the more complex types of charts.

google sheets chart types

Pie Charts

Pie Charts are perhaps the most commonly used charts. Most people would be very familiar with a pie chart, and they do a great job of visualizing simple data. They are used commonly with budgeting as it depicts a single item (i.e., spending). Pie charts use a circle, disk, or donut divided into sections based on the data.

Line and Area Charts

Line charts and Area charts are very similar. Both use an x-axis to show a period (i.e., month), and the y-axis shows the metric visualized. The only difference between them is a bit more color. A line chart is a rectangular chart that has dots going across it and lines connecting the dots. Whereas, for an Area chat, the space below the line is shaded in. This could perhaps make the visual much quicker to identify. Both charts can be used to visualize the changes of numerous metrics over time.

Column and Bar Charts

These charts resemble Line and Area charts in the overall layout, but you will have columns or bars instead of dots connected by lines. They will not be connected, thus allowing you to compare multiple metrics side by side for each period (i.e., week).

Learn more: How to Make a Bar Graph in Google Sheets

Stacked Column, Bar, and Area Charts

Stacked charts are similar to their standard versions. However, the metrics are stacked in different colors to show the changes in the composition of various items over time.

Scatter Charts

Scatter charts have a diagonal line (x-y plane) going from bottom left to top right moving up the metrics results. Then the data is visualized as dots around that line. These dots create a scatter plot that highlights the target areas. Often this is used to get a simple overview of property cost and square footage. It can be used effectively to show connections between two metrics.

Learn more: How to Make a Scatter Plot in Google Sheets

Geo Charts

These charts use a map, and they show concentration by area. They are great for visualizing sales data when attempting to understand the target market areas of a company’s customer base. Google Maps offers a map for this chart that is built into Google Sheets Charts.

The Chart Editor

The chart editor is, as it sounds, the place where you can edit your chart. This editor will allow you to change the data range, chart type, visual effect, and more. It consists of 2 sides: the Setup Editor and the Customize Editor.

Setup Editor

chart setup editor

Data Range

  • The range used for the data.
  • Automatically selected when you selected the data table cells at the start of this process.
  • You can use the grid button to the right of the current range to choose a different range/s.

X-axis

  • The horizontal axis selector.
  • The horizontal axis is automatically set based on the data.
  • If it is incorrect or if the data changes, it can be updated here.
  • To edit the range, click the name of the X-Axis, and it will bring up the options box to select another range.
  • The Label is set based on the column label in the data table. You will need to change the column label in the data table or change it in the customize section.

Aggregate Check Box

  • This checkbox will allow you to select and aggregate data options for the data series.
  • Some data sets do not lend themselves to this, while others require it.  

Series

  • Where you view and edit your data series.
  • The Label is set based on the column label in the data table. You will need to change the column label in the data table or change it in the customize section.
  • To edit the range, click the name of the series, and it will bring up the options box to select another range.
  • You can also add new series here. These series must be the same size range, but they do not have to be consecutive. For example: if a series is in Columns B4:B17, C4:C17, and D4:D17. You could also have a series in column H4:H17.

Checkboxes

  • Switch rows/columns: This swaps the rows and columns if the table is opposite this one.
  • Use row * as headers: uses whichever row is in the table headers position.
  • Use column * as labels: uses whichever column in the label position.

Customize Editor

customize chart editor

Chart style

  • Here you can edit the overall chart elements. This is how you can create a visually appealing chart that has colors and features you select. Often users will use this to match their chart to a preexisting color scheme or branded colors.
  • You can change the background, font, and border.
  • Checkboxes:
    • Smooth: removes jagged edges from the line chart
    • Maximize: removes blank border space and enlarges to max amount.
    • 3D: this will change it to a 3D chart.

Chart & axis titles

  • In this section, you will see a dropdown that lets you select which chart title you would like to edit.
  • You can edit the Chart Title, Chart Subtitle, Horizontal Axis Title, and Vertical Axis Title.
  • You can edit the text, font, location, color, and size.

Series

  • Series enables you to edit the charts visualization.
  • This section will see a dropdown that lets you select which series you would like to edit.
  • You can now edit the color, opacity, dash type, line thickness, point size, and point type.

Legend

  • You can change the position, font, and color of the legend.

Vertical Axis

  • You can change the min/max value, scale format, and number format.

Gridlines and ticks

  • You can change the gridlines and ticks for both the vertical and horizontal axis.
  • The vertical axis has many more options in this example. You can change the spacing, count, color and select various ticks and gridlines.
  • The horizontal axis has only one choice in this example and provides ticks along the axis.

Downloading Your Chart

After creating a chart, you may need to download it to distribute it to your team via email. Luckily Google Sheets has this built-in and allows you to download your file to a PNG, PDF, or SVG. To do this, you will need to hover your cursor over the chart. When you do this, three dots should appear in the top right corner of the chart. Click the three dots, and you will see a dropdown. Go to Download and select the file type you would like to download.

Download your chart

Advanced Tips

Google Sheets Charts have some more advanced options that we will not cover in full here, but this will provide you with other options for your chart.

  • Google Sheets charts can be published by creating a link and allowing people to view by accessing the link.
  • Google Sheets Charts can be connected directly with Google Presentations allowing you to update the data in the sheet without adjusting your presentation each time.
  • If you can use Google App Script, you can program your sheet to email a PDF or PNG created from a Google Sheets Chart to a list of team members at the same time every day/week/month.

Conclusion

Google Sheets Charts are a top-shelf data visualization tool that will create visuals to present your data. These visualizations are the key to making informed decisions and delivering effective points.

Hopefully, this tutorial will allow you to use this incredible tool effectively, and you will become more effective at making charts in Google Sheets.

Read more Google Sheets chart tutorials here:

Jon Flatt

Jon Flatt

Jon has worked in administrator positions for the last decade and has a specific knack for using Google Sheets to help small businesses. Jon consistently applies his skill set to allow small businesses and new Google Sheet users to advance and grow.