Published on

January 11, 2024


Google Sheets Data Visualization: Comprehensive Guide

Learn how to create powerful & beautiful charts in Google Sheets without breaking a sweat. Use AI and old-school charts to generate dashboards.
Giorgio Barilla
Digital Marketing Specialist

Imagine the power of Google Sheets, not just as a spreadsheet tool, but as a dynamic platform for data visualization. By leveraging this tool, you can transform complex data sets into comprehensible charts and graphs with ease.

This guide will take you on a journey through the realm of Google Sheets data visualization, introducing you to a variety of chart types from the basic to the advanced.

Whether you're a novice or a seasoned user, this comprehensive guide will equip you with the knowledge to make the most out of Google Sheets' data visualization capabilities.

Key Takeaways

  • Google Sheets can be used as a powerful yet user-friendly data visualization tool, providing users the ability to transform raw data into meaningful insights.
  • Learn about essential steps for importing and preparing data from different sources in Google Sheets for visualization.
  • Enhance visualizations with styling & formatting options, interactive features, advanced techniques such as heatmaps & mini charts plus add-ons for awesome visuals.
  • If Google Sheets ever gets too overwhelming, platforms like Akkio can auto-generate charts, entire dashboards, and upkeep your datasets in a click using AI.

Getting Started with Google Sheets Data Visualization

using Google Sheets to visualize data
Geomap in Google Sheets

Google Sheets has evolved into a powerful data visualization tool, offering users the ability to:

  • Transform raw data into meaningful insights
  • Analyze global sales reports
  • Showcase sales data
  • Create various chart types

With its user-friendly interface and seamless integration with other Google services, Google Sheets is an ideal choice for all your data analysis and visualization needs.

Understanding the basics is a critical first step as you delve into Google Sheets data visualization. We will start by discussing why Google Sheets is a preferred tool for data visualization and then delve into some important terminology and concepts.

Why Use Google Sheets for Data Visualization?

Google Sheets, also known as a Google spreadsheet, is an advantageous tool for data visualization due to its accessibility, collaboration, and versatility. With a single Google sheet, you can easily share your data with others, assess multiple metrics and trends, and perform rapid data analysis.

Its organized interface and integration options make it a popular choice among users who want to visualize their data efficiently.

Basic Terminology and Concepts

In Google Sheets, data visualization revolves around three fundamental concepts: tables, charts, and maps. Understanding their terminology is crucial as you work with different data types and visualization tools. Notable terms include:

  • Format
  • Chart type
  • Dataset
  • Data source
  • Axis
  • Scale
  • Legend
  • Variables

These terms are used to describe and comprehend the process of visualizing data through the use of graphs, charts, and other visual formats.

These terms are important to understand when working with data visualization tools. Format refers to the way data is presented and organized in the visualization. It can be in the form of tables, charts, graphs, or maps. The format chosen depends on the data type and the information you want to convey. For instance, a bar chart might be suitable for comparing different categories, while a line chart is ideal for showing trends over time.

Importing and Preparing Data for Visualization

Proper data importation and preparation is a prerequisite for data visualization in Google Sheets. This process involves importing data from various sources, cleaning and organizing it, and ensuring it’s in the correct format for visualization.

We will go through the process of importing data from various sources and preparing it for visualization in Google Sheets.

Importing Data from Different Sources

Google Sheets allows users to import data from CSV files, and other spreadsheets. After importing the data, it’s useful to rename the sheet and provide a name for the spreadsheet.

There are a few add-ons and external integrations to automatically import your data into Google Sheets. For example, you could use Zapier to auto-sync your contacts from a CRM (e.g. Salesforce) to Google Sheets, or a rank tracker to monitor your keyword rankings.

Many CRMs, such as Hubspot, also offer direct automations to push data into Google Sheets and/or export views to then import the CSV in.

Being one of the most popular tools for data gathering in the world, Google Sheets offers a plethora of options to make sure the data you're working on is fresh and syncs with your existing workflows. It's also used as a gateway to bring data into Looker Studio, Google's own more advanced visualizaation tool.

Cleaning and Organizing Data

A screenshot of a Google Sheets chart displaying google sheets features for cleaning and organizing data.

To ensure accurate and effective visualizations, it’s essential to clean and organize the data in Google Sheets. Data cleaning involves rectifying, deleting, or formatting incorrect, corrupted, duplicated, or incomplete data.

Organizing data into a logical structure involves grouping related data together and arranging it in a way that is logical and efficient, such as sorting data by date or alphabetically. Identifying errors and inconsistencies in the data is also crucial to ensure it’s consistent with the expected format or values.

Starting from July 2023, Google Sheets offers a good variety of AI-first optimization options. It can clean outliers, format data to be visually appealing, and make sure there are no duplicates with nearly no human interactions.

For more sophisticated data cleaning and automatic optimizations, consider exploring Akkio or similar software. This platform offers AI capabilities that can tidy up your database, perform operations usually reserved for coders, generate graphs and insights, or even help you in identifying and removing outliers.

Creating Various Types of Charts in Google Sheets

creating a bar chart in Google Sheets
Search Volume stats coming from a dataset

With your data imported and prepared, you can now proceed to create diverse charts in Google Sheets to highlight patterns and trends. Google Sheets offers a wide range of chart types, including bar and column charts, line and area charts, and pie and donut charts.

We will delve into each chart type and demonstrate how they can be created in Google Sheets.

Bar and Column Charts

Histogram of search volume volumes scraped from an SEO tool. Drag and drop interface

Bar and column charts are commonly used in Google Sheets to compare data across categories. These charts display data as rectangular bars, with the height or length of the bars representing the data values.

To create a bar or column chart, simply follow these steps:

  1. Select the data you wish to visualize.
  2. Click on the “chart” icon.
  3. Google Sheets will present various chart options, allowing you to choose the most suitable one for your data. One of the most popular is the histogram chart.

Line and Area Charts

Area chart created in Google Sheet

Line and area charts are ideal for visualizing trends and patterns over time, such as sales figures or stock prices. To create a line or area chart in Google Sheets, follow these steps:

  1. Select the data you wish to include in the chart.
  2. Go to the “Insert” tab and click on “Chart.”
  3. Choose the “Line” or “Area” chart option.
  4. Customize the chart by adding titles, labels, and formatting options.
  5. Click “Insert” to add the chart to your spreadsheet.

Google Sheets will insert a line or area chart into your spreadsheet with a default style, which you can customize according to your preferences.

Pie and Donut Charts

Pie and donut charts are commonly used in Google Sheets to represent proportions and percentages. These charts display data as slices of a circle, with the size of each slice representing the data value.

To create a pie or donut chart in Google Sheets, follow these steps:

  1. Select the data you wish to include in the chart.
  2. Follow the same steps as creating a bar or column chart.
  3. Google Sheets will insert a pie or donut chart into your spreadsheet with a default style.
  4. Customize the chart according to your preferences.

Customizing and Enhancing Your Visualizations

A person customizing a chart in Google Sheets

By customizing and enhancing your Google Sheets visualizations, you can significantly boost their readability and visual appeal. This can be accomplished by using the chart editor to apply styling and formatting options, adding labels, legends, and titles, and incorporating interactive features.

We will discuss these customization options and illustrate how they can improve your visualizations.

Styling and Formatting Options

Heavily customizing a google sheet visualization starting from data in columns

Styling and formatting options in Google Sheets allow users to optimize the appearance of their charts. This includes:

  • Making charts and scorecards transparent
  • Customizing charts to suit the visualization type
  • Choosing an appropriate font for readability
  • Allowing for adequate white space
  • Following a consistent data alignment style
  • Using contrasting hues
  • Customizing colors, fonts, styles, and backgrounds with third-party tools such as ChartExpo.

By taking advantage of these features, users can create charts that are visually appealing and easy-to-read.

Adding Labels, Legends, and Titles

Adding labels, legends, and titles to your charts in Google Sheets can greatly enhance their readability and understanding. To do this, simply select the chart and access the Chart editor through Customize > Chart & axis titles.

Within the Chart editor, you can add a title, legend, and labels to the chart.

Interactive Features

Incorporating interactive features in your Google Sheets charts can provide a more engaging user experience. Some of these features include:

  • Pivot Table
  • Slicer
  • Lookup Formulas
  • Sparkline
  • Data Validation

By using these interactive features, you can create dynamic, responsive visualizations that captivate your audience and provide valuable insights.

Advanced Data Visualization Techniques

A person using conditional formatting and heat maps in Google Sheets

Advanced data visualization techniques in Google Sheets can be utilized for deeper insights. These techniques include:

  • Organizational, which you could use show the relationship between different items in your dataset;
  • Treemap, when you want to show a data tree, where objects are organized into parent-child hierarchies;
  • Waterfall charts, a type of data visualization that shows how values add or subtract from a starting point over time;
  • Scatter charts, to visualize data in three dimensions;
  • Geo charts, to visualize distribution of items and data across regions of the world. You can use ChatGPT to generate the list of countries and do so much more. We have a complete article on how to use ChatGPT code interpreter for data analysis (now "Advanced Data Analytics").

If you find yourself overwhelmed with creating these visualizations manually, you might want to consider using a platform like Akkio. Powered by artificial intelligence, Akkio effortlessly generates dashboards, graphs, and visualizations for you with a single click, using plain English. We currently support over 20+ data types and trying it out is free.

Conditional Formatting and Heatmaps

an example of conditional formattings and heatmaps in google sheet starting from columns

Conditional formatting and heatmaps are powerful tools for highlighting patterns and trends in data, allowing users to quickly identify errors, outliers, and other important information in a dataset by focusing on each data point.

By using these techniques, you can emphasize specific values, errors, or outliers through the application of color schemes for a more visually appealing and informative representation of your data.

Sparklines and Mini-Charts

Sparkline graphs in Google Sheet, using the SPARKLINE() function

Sparklines and mini-charts are compact and efficient visualizations that can be incorporated into a cell in Google Sheets. These small charts provide a concise and effective visualization of data, making them an excellent choice for comparing data trends and patterns in a limited space.

Creating sparklines in Google Sheets is simple – just select the desired cell and use the SPARKLINE function in the formula bar.

Combining Multiple Charts

Combining multiple charts in Google Sheets can provide a comprehensive view of your data. The Combo Chart feature in Google Sheets enables you to combine two or more chart types into one, such as a bar chart and a line chart. To utilize the Combo Chart feature, simply select Insert > Chart, and then choose the Combo Chart option.

Combining charts, even those on the same chart, can help you gain a better understanding of your data and derive meaningful insights from it.

Sharing and Publishing Your Visualizations

A person collaborating on visualizations in Google Sheets

After crafting your visualizations in Google Sheets, you might consider sharing them or publishing them online. Google Sheets offers various options for sharing and publishing your visualizations, including embedding them into G Suite applications such as Google Slides or Google Docs.

Collaborating on Visualizations

Collaborating on visualizations with your team members in Google Sheets can be seamless and efficient. By creating and importing data, analyzing and visualizing it, and utilizing Google Sheets add-ons, you can work together with your team to create powerful visualizations that drive insights and decision-making.

Just like any other part of Google Sheets, graphs and charts can be edited by multiple people at the same time, abide by the changes history, and sync properly across devices.

Publishing and Embedding Charts

Publishing and embedding charts from Google Sheets on websites and other platforms can help you extend the reach of your data visualizations. Google Sheets offers two options for publishing and embedding charts: the “Publish to the Web” feature, which allows you to share your charts with a link, and the “Embed” feature, which allows you to embed your charts directly into a website or platform.

Keep in mind that sharing your data in this manner may pose security risks, as you may lose control over who has access to the data.


In conclusion, Google Sheets offers a powerful, accessible, and versatile platform for data visualization. From basic chart creation to advanced techniques and add-ons, Google Sheets provides users with the tools needed to transform raw data into insightful visualizations.

With collaboration, sharing, and publishing options, Google Sheets enables users to present their data in a clear and engaging manner. So why wait? Start exploring the world of Google Sheets data visualization today and unlock the full potential of your data.

If you want to do even more with Google Sheets, take a look at our Google Sheets Formula Generator. It's free and doesn't require any sign up.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Google have a data visualization tool?

Yes, Google has a data visualization tool called Looker Studio that enables users to easily turn their data into informative and customisable dashboards and reports. Google Looker Studio is a separate product and doesn't offer all integrations by default.

Is Google Sheets good for data analytics?

Google Sheets is a powerful tool for data analytics, with its built-in quick analysis features and providing summaries and charts of your data at the click of a button. That being said, there are better generative BI tools nowadays, such as Akkio, that can help spin up better graphs faster and share them across the organization in a safe environment.

How do I create a visual chart in Google Sheets?

To create a visual chart in Google Sheets, select the cells you want to include, then tap 'Insert', 'Chart', select your desired type and add customizations if desired. Finally, tap 'Done' to insert the chart.

What types of charts can be created in Google Sheets?

Google Sheets allows users to create bar charts, histograms pie charts, trend lines, sparklines, maps, and many more for data visualization.

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