A box plot in Google Sheets can provide a valuable way to visualize the distribution of data. It lets you summarize important details of a set of data at a glance. Unfortunately, Google Sheets does not have a feature to display box and whisker plots natively.

In this tutorial, however, we will show you how to get around this limitation and create a box and whisker plot in Google Sheets.

Table of Contents

## What is a Google Sheets Box Plot Used For?

A box plot is often used in exploratory data analysis (EDA). It provides a visual summary of five important descriptors of a dataset:

- The highest value
- The lowest value
- The median value
- The first quartile value
- The third quartile value

At just one glance of a boxplot in Google Sheets, one can tell if the data is symmetrical or skewed, or how tightly it is grouped together.

A box and whisker plot also lets you compare data from different related data sources, so you can make effective decisions.

For example, you can use them to:

- Compare scores from different classes
- Compare how data changes before and after a process

It also allows you to quickly spot outliers with minimums and maximums in your data sets. Because you’re evaluating quartiles, you’ll see where the bulk of your data stacks up against each other. That’s the same in Excel or Google Sheets. Except only one of these allows you to make the native box and whisker chart.

In Google Sheets, you’ve got to get creative. That’s where I come in.

## How to Make a Box and Whisker Plot in Google Sheets

As mentioned before, Google spreadsheets do not have a feature to specifically create box and whisker plots. However, we can repurpose a candlestick chart as a method of how to create a boxplot in Google sheets.

Candlestick charts are usually used to show min, max, and two quartile values. So, they show most of what a standard box and whisker plot does except vertically instead of horizontally (and missing the median marker). Candlestick charts are often used for stocks as they can show the data required by traders in a simple way. You can learn exactly how to make a candlestick chart in Google Sheets here.

So I’ll show you how to pull this same data, minus the median line, into a box and whisker chart in Google Sheets.

Let’s say you have the following list of numbers and want to display a box and whisker plot to describe the distribution.

### Computing the Five-Number Summary for the Google Sheets Box and Whisker Plot

I made a video that shows the functions you’ll need to make a box and whisker chart in Google Sheets. You can use them regardless of the size of your data set, and it only takes about a minute to compile everything. Check it out below or watch it on my YouTube channel.

[adthrive-in-post-video-player video-id=”qYnsK4sX” upload-date=”2023-12-18T20:03:46.000Z” name=”Box and Whisker Chart: Google Sheets” description=”Here’s how to make a box and whisker chart in Google Sheets. My video also shows the functions you’ll need to use to pull min, max, and quartiles. You’ll need each of these if you want to make an accurate box and whisker chart.” player-type=”default” override-embed=”default”]

A box and whisker plot always requires the following five summary descriptors, which should always appear in the same order:

- Minimum Value
- Lower Quartile
- Median
- Upper Quartile
- Maximum Value

So we need to first enter formulas to find each of the above values for the given data. Let us calculate these values one by one, alternatively, you could transpose data from another sheet.

#### Finding the Minimum Value

This is the smallest value in the list of numeric data. To find the minimum value, we use the MIN function. Enter the following formula in the first column, under the column header, ‘*Minimum Value’ *(in cell B2):

=MIN(A2:A10)

#### Finding the Lower Quartile

This is the value at the center of the first quarter of the numerical data. To find the lower quartile, we use the QUARTILE function, and specify the second parameter of this function as 1 (since we want to extract the *first *quartile of the given data).

Enter the following formula in the second column, under column header, ‘*Lower Quartile*’ (in cell C2):

=QUARTILE(A2:A10,1)

#### Finding the Median

This value is not necessary for creating the box plot, but it is an important component of the five-number summary, and as such, should be computed.

The median is the value at the center of the numerical data. To find the median, we use the MEDIAN function.

Enter the following formula in the third column, under column header, *‘Median’ *(in cell D2):

=MEDIAN(A2:A10)

#### Finding the Upper Quartile

This is the value at the center of the last quarter of the numerical data. To find the upper quartile, we use the QUARTILE function, and specify the second parameter of this function as 3 (since we want to extract the *third *quartile of the given data). Enter the following formula in the fourth column, under column header, ‘*Upper Quartile*’ (in cell E2):

=QUARTILE(A2:A10,3)

#### Finding the Maximum Value

This is the largest value in the list of numeric data. To find the maximum value, we use the MAX function.

Enter the following formula in the fifth column, under the column header, ‘*Maximum Value’ *(in cell F2):

=MAX(A2:A10)

## Displaying the Box and Whisker Plot by Using the Five-Number Summary

Now that we have our five-number summary in places, we can begin creating our box plot in Google Sheets.

Here are the steps:

- Insert a new column to the left of column B (by right-clicking on the column header and selecting
*‘Insert 1 left*’). - In the cells exactly to the left of the first number summary value, enter the text that you would like to display as your box plot’s title. In our example, we simply entered the text “
*Data*” in cell B2. - Select the cells containing the 5 summary descriptors, along with the cell containing the text, “
*Data*”. In our example, we select the cells B2:G2. - From the
*Insert*menu, select the*Chart*option.

- This opens the
*Chart editor*sidebar to the right of the browser window. - In the
*Chart editor*, click on the dropdown under*‘Chart type’*.

- Under the
*‘Other’*category, select the*Candlestick chart*option.

- You should now see a box and whisker plot that represents your data.

**Note**: Always remember to specify the 5 number summary in the same order, otherwise your box plot might display erroneous data.

### Box and Whisker vs. Candlestick Chart

Note that the box and whisker chart differs in one major way from the traditional candlestick chart. The box and whisker also has a line that tracks the median. That’s missing on candlestick charts, which are often used for financial tracking.

However, there’s still enormous value to using one for the other chart in Google Sheets.

## Interpreting the Google Sheets Box and Whisker Plot

Before closing, let’s take a moment to quickly understand the plot that we created.

- The top line (the top of the whisker) marks the
*maximum value*in the data. - The length of the top line (the top whisker) signifies how far the highest value is from Quartile 3. This can help us identify the presence of potential outliers, or a skewed dataset.
- The top of the box marks the
*third quartile value*of the data. - The bottom of the box marks the
*first quartile value*of the data. - The length of the bottom line (the bottom whisker) signifies how far the lowest value is from Quartile 2. This can again help us identify the presence of potential outliers or a skewed dataset.
- The bottom line (the bottom of the whisker) marks the
*minimum value*in the data. - Unfortunately, the median is not specifically shown in candlestick charts. You just have to make an educated guess from your data, it’s usually in the center of the candlestick.

You can also choose to customize the box and whisker plot according to your liking. For example, you can change the color of the box plot or give it a three-dimensional feel.

To customize the chart, double-click on the chart. This will display the *Chart editor.* Select the *‘Customize’ *tab from the Chart editor and make your required changes by unraveling the required section and making the changes you need.

## Making Multiple Box and Whisker Charts at Once

You can follow the above steps and simply highlight a larger collection of data. Let’s take a look at the data set below

As you can see in the screenshot, we’ve already highlighted the data. Now all we have to do it.

- Insert a chart
- Change it to a candlestick chart.

## Limitations of Box and Whisker Charts in Google Sheets

Because there’s no built-in method for making a box and whisker chart in Google Sheets, you’re going to miss out on some valuable data. If you want to find the middle number of any data set, you may want to try Microsoft Excel.

However, the candlestick method of reproducing a box and whisker chart gives many valuable insights. It’s a worthwhile visualization for those who rely on the cloud features and low cost of Google’s popular spreadsheet software.

Looking for other powerful tools? I’ve made hundreds of free spreadsheet templates for business and personal use.

## Conclusion

In this tutorial, I discussed why box and whisker plots are useful and how they can be created in Google Sheets. I hope you’ll give my method a shot. I use it often, especially for exploratory data analysis tasks. Please let me know in the comments if you have any questions. I did my best to discuss the functions you’ll need to include for box and whisker charts above, but complex data sets can sometimes raise additional questions!

*This article was checked by Jim Markus.*