Creating Professional Charts in Google Sheets to Optimize Data

Charts serve as a visual summary of your data in Google Sheets. Finding meaning in a beautifully illustrated pie chart or bar graph is much easier than sifting through a data list. Creating professional charts not only enhances your business’s data analysis, but also helps your clients or business partners better understand the figures you’ve analyzed, showcasing the professionalism of your company.

When dealing with large datasets, I often quickly convert them into charts for analysis. One of my favorite tools for chart creation is Google Sheets. It’s free and accessible in your browser, eliminating the need to purchase another tool like Microsoft Excel. In this guide, Officehabit will walk you through creating professional charts to optimize your data.

How to Quickly Create Professional Charts on Google Sheets

Step 1: Create a Sheet

Once you’ve logged into your Google Drive account, create a new Sheet by clicking on “New” and selecting “Google Sheets.”

Step 2: Add Your Data

Every chart starts with data inside the Sheet. If you want your chart to display a summary of your data, make sure to organize and group your data before creating a new chart.

Example: Aggregating your results by month instead of using individual days will keep your chart clean and visually appealing.

Step 3: Select the Data for Your Chart

After entering your data into the Sheet, choose the data you want to include in your chart. It’s best to highlight entire columns. This way, adding more rows to the data later will automatically incorporate them into the chart, updating it in real-time.

You can also selectively mark the columns you want to include in your data. Click on a column to add it to the chart, then hold Ctrl on Windows (Cmd on Mac) and click on another column header.

Step 4: Select “Insert” > “Chart”

Step 5: Choose Chart Format

You can choose from various chart formats. The type of chart you choose should depend on the data format you’re working with and how you want to present it. One of my favorite features of Sheets is its suggestions for chart types that match your data structure. You can customize the chart type according to your preferences.

Step 6: Customize the Chart

Once you’ve placed your chart in Google Sheets, you can customize it to look exactly how you want. Click on “Customize” and make changes such as:

Chart Style: background color, font, chart border color, zoom, 3D, comparison mode. Chart & Axis Titles. Series. Legend. Horizontal Axis. Vertical Axis. Gridlines and Ticks.

You’ve created your first Google Sheets chart. Now it’s time to think about the best ways to use them and the differences between each type.

Popular Types of Google Sheets Charts

Google Sheets allows you to create various types of charts. Below are visual examples of each chart type with guidelines on when you might use each one.

Line Chart

A line chart helps people visualize how data has changed over time.

Example: If you want to see how your company is performing each month, you can create a revenue chart over time to illustrate the fluctuations in your company’s results.

Area Chart

An area chart provides a sense of proportion by coloring the area beneath the lines. I like using these to “accumulate” costs or amounts by stacking bars on top of each other.

Column / Bar Chart

A bar chart visually represents the height of each item and compares it to related items.

Example – Use a stacked bar chart to showcase the values of your daily steps, making it easy to compare against different days.

Column charts and bar charts are similar as they both use vertical lines to represent values. Column charts use vertical lines, while bar charts use horizontal lines. In both cases, they can help you understand the significance of the items they represent.

Pie Chart

A pie chart is a classic presentation tool that illustrates how parts of data relate to the whole.

Example:

  • Display the percentage of time you spend on each project.
  • You can use a pie chart to draw attention to the amount of time dedicated to specific types of tasks.

Google Sheets’ pie chart will automatically calculate the percentage ratio for you. Input your data into two columns and create a pie chart to automatically divide your values into categories.

Which Google Sheets Chart Type Should I Use?

Choose any chart based on personal preference, as many types overlap in how they can be used with your data. It’s easy to switch between chart types or adjust specific details within Sheets. You should use the chart type that best suits your data, making it easy for viewers to understand. A visually appealing and professional chart will attract viewers and help them better comprehend what you want to convey.

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