How to make a graph in Google Sheets

1641325606 How to make a graph in Google Sheets

Learn how to create and make a visual display of your data in Google Sheets or use the = SPARKLINE function to create a mini-card in a spreadsheet cell.

For many, looking at a graph can make sense in a way that can't look at a long list of numbers. A well-constructed card can enable an observer to understand movement, compare sizes, or understand relationships in the data presented.

As a collaborative, cloud-based app, Google Sheets lets you create records collaboratively. You can work with others every step of the way to enter data, select the cells to register, experiment with different card types, and update the display to read their card capability.

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For maximum control over records in Google Sheets, you will want to create and edit your records with Google Sheets in Chrome on a laptop or desktop. Currently, the Google Sheets apps that you can install on Android or Apple devices offer a smaller number of records (17, compared to 32 on the web), as well as far fewer card display customization what is available in Google Sheets on the web.


    How to Create a Graph in Google Sheets

    To get started, go to Google Sheets in Chrome, then open an existing page or type to create a new spreadsheet. Then follow the steps below to create a card with Google Sheets.

    1. Enter data. In most cases, you insert data and tabs in your spreadsheet in columns and rows. Usually, the far left column and top row serve your data in some way. For example, if you use a spreadsheet to record sales, you may put store names in the cells on the left (e.g., column A) and month names at the top (e.g., row 1). Do a double check to make sure the data you use for your card is correct.
    2. Select cells. Next, select the cells within your page that you want to use to create your card. Often, you select a blank cell first: The cell above the tabs of your column and to the left of the rows. Once selected, drag your cursor to the bottom right of your data cell. On the other hand, you may notice the row and column address for each of these cells - the top left address and the lower left address right - and move on to the next step.
    3. Select Submit | Chart. Either select Insert | Menu Card (Figure A.) or select the Insert Chart icon from the images displayed above your spreadsheet. This will create a new card in your Google page. If you do not want to keep the chart on the same page as your source data, I suggest you move the graph to a separate page. To do this, select the chart, then select the three dots arranged vertically in the top right corner of the graph to access menu options and select Move To Own Sheet. This will place the chart on a page of your choice (at the bottom left of your Google page).

    Figure A.

    After you have entered your data and selected the cells you want to record, select the Insert Chart icon or select Insert | Chart.

    4. Change configuration. To change the appearance of a card, select Edit Card. If the card is on the same page as data, select the card, select the three dots arranged directly in the top right corner of the card, and then select Edit Card. The Card editor sidebar displays on the right side of your card or page (Figure B.). Inside the sidebar, you can either select Setup, to change card data settings, or Customize, to change appearance.

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    Figure B.

    Screenshot: Column table displayed, edit selected card, which displays the Setup and Customize options in the right-hand panel.

    Select Edit Card, then select Setup to change the card type (or change other card options), or Customize to change card appearance details.

    Within Setup, it is the most important choice you can make. Pages offers a wide variety of options that include several types of line, area, column, bar, pie, scatter, and map, along with several other card types (e.g., scorecard, radar, line- time, and candlestick options, among others). Pages include a chart type, which displays the source data in a thumbnail format.

    Choose the type of card that accurately presents the data - and the story about the data - that you want to present. In general, a line chart can show data changes over time, bar (horizontal) and column (vertical) tables allow you to compare sizes, and pie charts indicate proportions of totals. If you are unsure which type to choose, the University of California Berkeley Library offers additional guidance.

    5. Customize the presentation. The options available within the Customize section of the table editor will vary depending on the card type and configuration options you have selected. For example, with the table type, there are only a few options available. In contrast, a line chart allows you to change all types of styles, titles, series, axes, myths and gridlines. While the dashboard editor side panel is open, you can click on an element of your card to select and change the element options.

    While standard Google Sheet card options often create a readable card, I encourage you to consider possible changes to the fonts, datasheets, and colors of your card. A slightly larger font can help make card text easier to read for many people. Enabling data tabs, so that numbers appear in your card, can improve the amount of detail your card provides. Enhanced colors may make your card easier to understand for people who may not be able to identify the standard color scheme well. You may also be considering exploring PennState Cards & Accessibility recommendations.

    Optional: Publish or download. When you are done, you may want to publish or download your card. Select the Publish Card button while on the card page to make your card (or the entire page) available with a web connection. Or select Download Card to save your card as a PNG, PDF, or SVG file.

    How to create a miniature graph in a cell

    Google Sheets includes the ability to create sparklines, a graph that is completely inside a cell (Figure C.). Sparklines was first implemented today to mark financial data for traders. That makes sense, because a sparkline may show a time series graph of a stock price, for example. You can create and display sparklines in Google Sheets on the web, as well as the Google Sheets apps on Android and iOS.

    Figure C.

    Screenshot: Shows temperature data for Albuquerque, Detroit, Seattle, and Orlando for 7 days, with SPARKLINE to the right of the intended temperature.  The four SPARKLINE cells display line graphs that indicate the temperature for the 7 days of data (e.g., moving up for Albuquerque, up and down for Seattle, etc.).

    Add sparkline (cell miniature graph) to your Google page with the action = SPARKLINE. Sparkline may make data easier to interpret with a quick glance.

    To create a sparkline, place your cursor in the cell in which you want to display the sparkline, then enter:


    Next, click or tap and select a cell range, or type in a cell field. After specifying the range, enter a closing loop. The activity should present something like:


    The sparklines function also supports custom line settings, colors, and bar and column charts. See the Google Sheets sparkline action help page for more information.

    How much do you know about Google Sheets charts?

    When creating charts and graphs in Google Sheets, to what extent do you change the options from the defaults? Does your organization recommend specific card scenarios to improve accessibility or comply with brand guidelines? If you use sparklines in Google Sheets, what kind of information do these thumbnails provide? Let me know how to use graphs, charts, or sparklines in Google Sheets, either in the comments below or via Twitter (@awolber).

    See also

    Google Sheet-based Image: showing the 5 steps, 1. Enter data, 2. Select cells, 3. Insert a card, 4. Change position, 5. Customize display - with arrows point from each item to the corresponding section of Google Page.

    Photo: Andy Wolber / TechRepublic

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