Bar graphs ain’t old school. Yes, someone has to say it! 🤷♂️
They are the most fundamental chart type used by business owners and financial analysts to display complicated data in an easy-to-read format.
Besides, they are a convenient way to visualize information quickly and effectively.
In this article, we will walk you through the easiest method of creating highly-customizable bar graphs in Google Sheets.
Let’s start with answering the most basic question.
A bar graph is a graphical representation that uses a combination of bars and numeric values to present complex data in an easy-to-understand manner.
Simply put, a bar graph (aka bar charts or column graphs) plots numeric values against levels of rectangular blocks known as bars.
These levels are plotted on one chart axis (let's say the x-axis) and values on the other axis (y-axis). Each value claims one bar, and the height of each bar corresponds to the value they represent.
Here's how a typical bar graph looks in Google Sheets.
Moreover, as you can see in the image, bars are plotted on a common baseline to allow for easy measurement and comparison of values.
This is just one type of bar graph. Google Sheets, however, offers you an array of bar chart styles to visualize data.
In these types of bar graphs, the rectangular bars are horizontally drawn on the y-axis, and the x-axis shows the value corresponding to each bar.
Unlike horizontal bar graphs, here, the rectangular bars are vertically drawn on the x-axis, and the y-axis shows the value corresponding to each bar.
The stacked bar graph (or composite bar graph) divides the whole bar into several segments. Each segment is colored and labeled differently to quickly identify individual categories.
Similar to stacked bar graphs, this graph also splits the bar into colored segments based on different categories. The only difference is, in a 100% stacked bar graph, the stacked bar always equals 100%, i.e., each bar height is always 100%.
💭 Food For Thought: Bar graphs are the best way of data handling while working on Google Sheets.
It's an excellent tool to represent data that are independent of one another and that don't need to be in any specific order for being represented.
Besides, bar graphs are especially used when you want to show a distribution of data points or compare performance over time.
From a bar chart, we can see which groups are the highest or most common and how the groups compare against each other.
But what makes bar graphs popular among data analysts compared to other charts?
Here are the reasons for it.
Because bar graphs are widely used in publishable formats like textbooks, marketing reports, and research papers, many people already know how it works and what it represents.
We mean, it's ok if a higher-secondary school kid tells you the information that a bar graph conveys. It's that common and easy to grasp.
Unlike other types of graphs, such as pie charts, histograms, and area charts, bar graphs are really straightforward. Its simplicity makes it a good choice when you want to make your data understandable to a diversified audience segment.
Another prolific advantage of bar graphs is their ability to visualize trends in an easy-to-understand format.
Other graphs, such as pie charts, can only represent one data set (mostly).
For instance, if you’re conducting a yearly survey with 100 people asking them their choice of smartphone and then showing the percentage of people opting for different preferences, you need some form of visual aid to express it.
In such cases, a bar graph could be handy to show how people's choices change over time. Anyone can look at the chart and identify which smartphone is people's choice for the current year.
Furthermore, you can also compare that information to past surveys and analyze trends to map the changes in trends over time.
Until now, you might have figured out why using a bar graph to visualize your data can be a wise choice.
So, let's skip to the good part.
Although making a bar graph in Google Sheets is no rocket science, it might be a cumbersome process for newbies. Down the line, we have tried decoding the process of creating bar graphs in an easy step-by-step guide.
You can watch the video below or read the step by step instructions, the choice is up to you ☺️👇
But first things first, you need a database to perform visualizations. So for initials, we have created a fictional dataset of the monthly sales for a SaaS company.
Now, you can visualize this data in 3-simple steps:
Select the cells you would like to visualize (including the headers)
Click on the 'Chart Icon' on the right side of your toolbar.
As you click the icon, Google Sheets will automatically present the dataset with a default chart type.
See how it did for our dataset 👇🏻
Next, click on Setup in the chart editor on the right-hand sidebar. Then click on Chart Type dropdown to choose any graph from the Bar or Column section.
Note: The vertical form of a bar graph is named Columns in Google Sheets to avoid confusion, but both fall under the bar graph category.
Select the type of bar graph. For visualizing a single dataset, select a single bar of column charts.
Once selected, this is how the above data set will be displayed.
That's it! You have successfully made your first bar graph in Google Sheets.
So after you’ve created your bar graph from the steps above, here’s how to customize it further.
For those aware, the graphs you create in Google sheets offer many customization options, such as editing the graph title and axis titles, changing bar and background colors, placing labels, and even customizing the font style.
Let's see how you can customize each one of them.
To get started, double-click on the graph to open the chart editor sidebar (or it might already be there if you haven't closed it yet).
Then, click on the Customize tab. A drop-down appears with a list of customizable items.
Let's drill down the items in the list one by one.
From here, you can customize the chart's background color, font style, and border color.
Moreover, you can change how people view your chart by checking the 3 boxes:
Here’s the Chart Type option in action:
Next, click on Chart and axis titles to edit the chart title/subtitle or change both axis titles. Besides you can also format the title fonts, size, and color.
This feature will help you personalize your chart according to your brand and also create white-label charts for your clients.
Here’s how creative minds at Datapad use this feature:
You can change the colors for each of the bars in the graph from the Series section.
To do so, expand the ‘Series’ section in the chart editor sidebar. Then click on Apply To All Series dropdown and select the series you want to customize.
You can then change the fill and line color for the bars and also change the % of the opacity of colors. Moreover, you can choose the line type and thickness.
You can find the Format data point option in the same section, Series. This is mainly used to highlight a specific bar on the chart to make it stand out.
For example, if you want your highest profit month to stand out from the other bars in the graph, you can do it via the Format data point option.
Click on the Add button beside the format data point text.
A pop-up appears asking you to select a data point.
Choose from the dropdown and press OK.
Then, pivot to the chart editor, where you will be provided with several color options to choose from (choose the color you want to use as a highlighter).
Choose a predefined color or create your custom color; totally up to you.
Meanwhile, your selected dataset will change colors in real-time as you click on random colors.
Note: You can always change the data point and color later on.
Click on the Data Labels checkbox to add or customize labels to each bar. You can also change the font type, size, and colors of the labels.
These were all the major customization options that you might need when creating bar graphs in Google Sheets.
There are some more customization options that you can check out on your own, such as:
And that's it! You have customized every section of the bar graph and created a full-fledged bar graph in Google Sheets.
Achievement Unlocked! 🎉
You might have felt there are tons of customizations available on G Sheets for creating data visualizations, but the truth is that Google Sheets is far behind in visualizing KPIs.
Despite being a product of Google, it's uncommon to find that G Sheets provide next to no automation.
Even with the data extraction and management process, Google Sheets doesn’t provide any helpful automation. Instead, you are required to manually input and edit data to your Google Sheet dashboard.
That sounds tedious and is actually tiring.
If you’re tracking metrics with your team, things can get messy because someone can tamper the sheet, or everyone can keep their own version which breaks the single source of truth.
What’s worse, Google Sheets slows down once there are too many collaborators accessing the sheets at the same time. Besides, it has a comparably poor UI for efficiently managing team activities.
Some standard dashboarding features like assigning tasks, real-time communication, time tracking, and accounting for internal databases cannot be achieved with Google Sheets dashboards.
Everything adds up to the fact that Google Sheets is not a team-friendly tool.
What if you want to check your metrics on the go? Let's be honest. Google Sheets aren't a great choice for it.
You see, dashboards created on Gsheets are not mobile-friendly. Although you can access them from your mobile, it still requires you to pinch your phone every time to navigate through your dashboard.
There are also chances of unintentionally hampering the data and dashboard layout when working through an unresponsive mobile interface.
So what can you do?
You can try one of the best alternatives to Google Sheets.👇🏻
Datapad is a mobile-friendly KPI tracking and dashboarding tool that allows anyone to collect, analyze, and visualize crucial business metrics at their fingertips.
Its mobile-first approach allows you to get instant access to your dashboards from anywhere and on any device around the globe. All we ask from you is reliable network connectivity to upload and download data files to servers.
Besides, our tool is really smooth...when it comes to creating business dashboards.
Here’s a tutorial on how to create a dashboard and track KPIs with Datapad.
The best part is that you can perform every function well within the Datapad app.
Thanks to the team for a maverick of features, though we would like to share our favorite ones:
With Datapad's highly responsive mobile app, you can instantly access your dashboard from your mobile within seconds, not even minutes – no buffering time, lags, or half-volley graphs.
Our tool is compatible with all known small-screen devices, allowing you to edit dashboards on the go. All you need is a reliable network.
With Datapad's mobile-friendly app, you can:
Our tool offers seamless in-app communication and collaborations. You and your team can comment and tag members under specific KPIs to strike a conversation.
Meanwhile, our real-time alerts and push notifications ensure that everyone onboard is alerted of your comment and can do the needful to join the conversation.
What's more, with the Datapad team collaboration feature, you can:
Unlike Google Sheets, Datapad's robust data connectors and APIs set your data import process on auto-pilot.
Our one-click integration with popular data points such as Google Analytics, Google Sheets, My SQL Database, and more allows you to import data hassle-free.
Datapad offers complete no-code customizations. Its user-centric interface and drag-and-drop functionality allow you to customize every section of your dashboard hassle-free.
Besides, our tool offers tons of pre-built graphs and widgets to quickly build eye-catching dashboards. Datapad also allows you to perform granular customizations such as formatting text, font style, and graph colors.
Besides, as said earlier, you can also import data manually. Your call!
Want to explore Datapad for FREE? Scan the QR code below, and join us today!