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How to Make a Graph or Chart in Google Sheets

By Justin Pot · April 3, 2019
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Charts and graphs are so helpful because they turn abstract numbers into something that can be understood at a glance. Google Sheets makes it easy to create charts or graphs out of numbers in your spreadsheet.

Begin by highlighting the data you want to include. (Don't worry if you're including data you don't actually want to use: You can remove columns later.) In the example below, we're working with US population data and want to visualize this.

Google Sheets select data

Next, click Insert > Chart.

Google Sheets insert chart

This will create a chart for you, though it might not the kind of chart you were hoping for.

Google Sheets chart created

You will also notice a new side panel on the right. This is the Chart editor, and it will show up any time a chart you've created is selected. The Chart editor has two main tabs: Setup, where you choose the type of chart you're making and which data to include, and Customize, where you can change the chart's appearance.

Making Different Kinds of Charts

Google Sheets can create 18 different kinds of charts using your data. You can choose which type you want by clicking the Chart Type dropdown in the right panel.

Google Sheets chart typs

You could create a pie chart, for example. Here's a quick breakdown of US population by state:

Google Sheets pie chart

You can create a bar chart. Here's US population by state, with data from both 2010 and 2018:

Google Sheets bar chart

You can even create maps. Here's net migration between 2010 and 2018:

Google Sheets US Map

There are 18 types of charts and graphs you can make in total, allowing you to visualize data in all kinds of useful ways. Find the one that works best for your data. Google offers an overview of every chart type.

Customizing Your Chart

Sometimes the chart will require some adjustment, of course. In my earlier example, showing the population of major US states at two points in time, the two bars were stacked. Like this:

Google Sheets chart types

Obviously, the population at two points in time is not cumulative. We need to configure the chart. This is done in the Setup tab of the side Chart editor.

Which options are shown here depends on what kind of chart you are making. We want to disable Stacking which shows up right at the top.

Google Sheets stacking

Set that to None and you'll see the data side by side.

Google Sheets better chart

There is no end of configuration options like this, and it's all fairly different depending on the kind of chart you're trying to make. I recommend making a few charts and experimenting to really get a handle on how configuration works.

Customize Your Chart's Colors, Font, and Labels

The Customize panel of the Chart editor lets you configure the look. It's here you can customize the background color, for example, and change the font by clicking on the item in question or navigating to it in the panel.

Google Sheets customize chart

You can also change things like axis labels, the legend, and more.

Google Sheets axis labels

Again, what's here will vary a lot depending on the kind of chart you're making, so I recommend building a few charts in order to learn your way around.

Want to learn more? Check out our introduction to Google Sheets. You can also learn how to automatically generate charts and reports using AI or even build a custom business analytics dashboard .

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Justin Pot

Justin Pot is a staff writer at Zapier based in Hillsboro, Oregon. He loves technology, people, and nature, not necessarily in that order. You can follow Justin on Twitter: @jhpot. You don't have to. But you can.

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