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How to make a graph or chart in Google Sheets

how to make a graph in google sheets macbook user
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Graphs and charts are fantastic tools for displaying data in an attractive visual format. This can make seeing data at a glance easy, which allows you to spot patterns or anomalies quickly.

With the graph options available in Google Sheets, you can make a line, bar, column, pie, or other type of chart in just minutes. Then, tailor the graph to your liking with colors, a legend, gridlines, and more.

Here’s how to make a graph in Google Sheets and customize it.

Difficulty

Moderate

Duration

15 minutes

What You Need

  • PC, laptop, tablet, or smartphone with Google Sheets access.

Make a graph in Google Sheets

Creating a chart in Google Sheets starts with the data. While you can add data to a graph after you create one, it’s best to start with at least one data set.

Depending on the data you select for your chart, Sheets will recommend the chart it thinks fits your data best. But you’re free to pick whichever type of graph you like.

Step 1: Select your data by dragging your cursor through a range of cells or clicking column and row headers.

Step 2: Open the Insert menu and choose Chart.

The Chart option is selected in the Google Sheets Insert menu.
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Step 3: You’ll immediately see a default graph appear on your sheet. This is the one that Sheets suggests for you. You can keep the chart or choose a different one in the Chart Editor sidebar that appears with the chart.

Default chart inserted in Google Sheets.
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Step 4: To pick a different graph, select the Setup tab in the sidebar. At the top, click the Chart Type drop-down box.

You’ll see more suggested charts at the top with all remaining types below. Pick a graph you’d like to use, and the default graph on the sheet will update to the new type.

Chart types available in Google Sheets.
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Step 5: Once you choose the type of chart you want, you can adjust the additional options on the Setup tab for the data you want to display.

  • Data range: Adjust the cell range for the chart by adding to it or removing from it.
  • X- or y-axis: Depending on your graph type, you can display, remove, or add labels to the x- or y-axis. You can also check the box to Aggregate the data.
  • Series: Similar to adjusting the axis, you can do the same with the Series. Remove the series, include labels, or add another series.
  • Additional options: At the bottom of the sidebar you’ll see even more options for your graph. Check the boxes to switch rows and columns, use the first row as headers, or use the first column as labels. Again, these options vary based on the type of graph you pick.
Chart Editor Setup tab in Google Sheets.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Customize a graph in Google Sheets

After you insert your chart and select the Setup options, you can customize various elements of it in the Chart Editor sidebar.

If you closed the sidebar, reopen it by clicking the three dots on the top right of the chart and choosing Edit Chart.

Step 1: Select the Customize tab at the top of the sidebar. You’ll see several elements in expandable sections. Simply expand a section to work with that part of the chart.

Chart Editor Customize tab in Google Sheets.
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Step 2: Each section you see depends on the chart type you’re using. For instance, if you have a bar chart, you’ll see options too for the horizontal and vertical axes, and if you use a pie chart, you can adjust the pie slice.

Step 3: Although each type of graph in Google Sheets comes with its own elements, here are a few that are available on various chart types that may interest you.

  • Chart Style: Expand the Chart Style section to choose a background color, font, border color, or make the chart 3D.
  • Chart and Axis Titles: Expand this section to add a subtitle and customize the font for both the chart title and the subtitle.
  • Legend: Expand Legend to pick a position or change the font style, size, format, and color.
Chart Style expanded in the Chart Editor.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Step 4: When you finish customizing the chart, click the X on the top right to close the Chart Editor sidebar.

Chart actions in Google Sheets.
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Move, resize, edit, or delete a graph

You can move your chart to any spot on your sheet. Simply select it and drag it to its new position.

To resize your graph, drag from a corner or edge, inward or outward.

For additional actions, click the three dots on the top right of the chart. You can reopen the sidebar with Edit Chart or remove it with Delete Chart. You’ll also see options to download, publish, copy, or move the chart to a new sheet.

Creating a graph in Google Sheets is easy, and with the customization options available, you can give it the exact appearance you want.

Sandy Writtenhouse
Sandy has been writing about technology since 2012. Her work has appeared on How-To Geek, Lifewire, MakeUseOf, iDownloadBlog…
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