How to Make a Dot Plot in Google Sheets [Step-by-Step]

The standard operation of Google Sheets is using its rows and columns to represent your data. Sometimes though, it takes more than just rows and columns to communicate the information to your intended audiences. You have to visualize the information you want to convey.

Luckily, Google Sheets incorporates various ways to visualize any type of data you want. Be it a line graph to display your financial trends or a bar graph to display the sales of your shops.

A dot plot chart is one of such ways in which you can represent your data, specifically univariate data (data with one variable). Although it does not feature a dot plot maker, to make a dot plot chart, Google Sheets allows you to create a Scatter Chart and customize it to your liking.

Follow the guide below on how to make a dot plot in Google Sheets and you’ll have a beautiful dot plot in no time.

What is a dot plot chart?

A dot plot graph is essentially a chart that represents a univariate data set using dots. It represents data with values on both the Y- and X-axis. In essence, the dot plot is displayed on a number line that depicts the distribution of numerical variables, and each dot on this line represents a value.

Moreover, there are two types of data you can represent using a dot plot chart: Categorical variable and Quantitative variable.

Categorical Variable

You conducted a survey where you asked a few people the type of vehicle they prefer (SUV, Sedan, Coupe, Wagon, and Convertible). The subject here is the vehicle type, and the variable is the number of people that prefer a specific vehicle type. This data can be represented using a dot plot in a very easy-to-understand graphical display where the Y-axis can represent the number of people, and X-axis can represent the type of cars.

Quantitative Variable

Let’s say you wished to create a dot plot chart for the frequency of people that take 10 to 40 minutes to finish dinner. The X-axis can represent time (in minutes), and the Y-axis can represent the number of people. In this case, the entire data is in numerical values.

When do you use a dot plot chart?

Similar to a histogram, this chart will help provide a visual depiction of the data distribution.

Generally, you will use a dot plot chart when you want to represent categorical and quantitative variables. Both variables are different; categorical variables represent data that can be set into categories, and quantitative variables represent measurable data with numerical values. We have provided examples for both types of data above. The vehicle type survey represents a categorical variable, and the time taken to finish dinner represents a quantitative variable.

The only labels displayed on a dot plot are the categories, so you need to count each dot manually to determine the frequency of each point. As a result, this chart is best for a small data set rather than a large one.

If you intend to represent a larger data set, you may use other charts such as histograms or box plots.

How to Make a Dot Plot in Google Sheets

The option to directly add a dot plot isn’t available in Google Sheets. But that shouldn’t hold you back from creating one.

The process of creating a dot plot graph on Google Sheets is pretty simple once you get familiar with it. It involves, in the simplest form, rearranging your data (the one with which you want to create a dot plot chart), inserting a chart, then changing the default chart to a scatter graph.

Once you get to the point where you have created a scatter graph, you can customize it to become a perfect dot plot graph.

Step-by-step guide

Here’s the easiest step-by-step guide on how to make a dot plot on Google Sheets.

Let’s take the data from the preferred vehicle type example we mentioned above.

  • Here’s the data in Google Sheets

  • Now, copy and paste the data in cells A2 to A6 into a separate column, in this case, column D.

  • In cell E2, type in the sequence formula and select cell B2 to B6, =sequence(1,B2:B6)

  • Paste the formula into the remaining cells of column E

  • Select the cell range with the sequenced data

  • Go to Insert
  • Select Chart

Select chart

  •  A default chart will appear. Go to chart editor, then chart type, and select the scatter chart.
  • Once you’ve created a scatter chart, customize it to make a perfect dot plot chart.

Customizing your chart

The customization part is where you will make sure it looks exactly like you want. There is a range of customization options. Here are our recommended changes to make it visually more pleasing:

  1. Remove legend

The legend is the guideline on the side of the graph which helps you read the content. Since this is a pretty straightforward chart, this guideline seems useless. Follow the below-mentioned steps to remove the legend.

  1. Click on three dots on the top-left side of the graph
  2. Click on edit chart
  3. Once the chart editor is open, click on customize
  4. Select legend
  5. Go to the Position section, which will be on auto by default, and select none.

2. Add max/min values on axis

This is to remove excess information and add only what is relevant to your data. Let’s take the data set of one of the examples we discussed above, the preferred vehicle types of different people.

A dot plot chart for that puts the numerical values on vertical axis. You can add the maximum and minimum values on the vertical axis by following the steps below:

  1. Just like we explained above, click on the three dots to go to the chart editor
  2. Once in the chart editor, select customize, and then go to vertical axis
  3. In the “Min.” part, add the minimum value of your data, and in the “Max.” part, add the maximum value of your data.

3. Remove gridlines

Again, completely down to one’s personal preference. We found the dot plot chart to be more decluttered without the grids.

Follow the steps below to remove the grids if you’d prefer:

  1. Go to the chart editor, then to the customize section.
  2. Select gridlines and ticks
  3. Untick all the options, including major gridlines, minor gridlines, major ticks, and minor ticks.

And tada! You’ve successfully created a dot plot!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you make a dot plot in Google Sheets?

You can use Google Sheets to create a dot plot chart, but the only dot plot maker Google Sheets offers is the scatter chart that can be customized to become a perfect dot plot chart.

Google Sheets is a powerful spreadsheet with many functionalities similar to Microsoft Excel. You can create various charts, including scatter graphs, histograms, and box plots, among others.

How do you insert a dot in Google Sheets?

You can easily add a dot in Google Sheets by double-clicking or pressing F2 on the desired cell, then pressing the Alt key (Options key on Mac) along with the number 7 key. This command will insert a dot or bullet point into your selected cell.

How do you make a plot in Google Sheets?

You can create various graphs and charts using Google Sheets. All you have to do is choose the cell range for which you intend to create a graph/chart, click on insert, then click on chart from the dropdown menu, and that’s it. This chart will be a standard chart created by Google Sheets; you can use the chart editor to customize it to your liking.

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