How to create an annotated line graph in Google Sheets

Animated e-junkie sales chart in Google Sheets
Animated line chart in Google Sheets

This post looks at how to create a more advanced line graph in Google Sheets, with comparison lines and annotations, so that the viewer can absorb the maximum amount of insight from a single chart.

For fun, I’ll also show you how to animate this line graph in Google Sheets.

Want your own copy of this line graph?
Click here to access your copy of this template >>

This chart was originally developed for The Write Life during their 4-day product sale earlier this year. It featured as part of a dashboard that was linked to the E-junkie sales platform and displayed sales data in real-time:

Google Sheet e-junkie real-time dashboard
Google Sheet e-junkie real-time dashboard

Continue reading How to create an annotated line graph in Google Sheets

Learn how to build dashboards with Google Sheets and Data Studio

Dashboard on monitor screen

Have you ever wanted to improve your reporting in Google Sheets?

Or create dashboard reports that are both beautiful and functional?

Build Business Dashboards With Google Sheets and Data Studio, my new online course, launches today.

Google Sheets Training

This is a comprehensive, online course that will teach you all the key techniques for building beautiful, interactive dashboards with Google Sheets and Google’s new visualization tool, Data Studio.

Dashboards are fantastic tools that give you a high-level view of your business, showing KPIs, trends and data comparisons.

You can use dashboards to make sound marketing and business decisions that help you grow your organization in smart ways, for example:

  • Showing the growth of your website or clients’ websites, by tracking traffic and social media metrics over time.
  • Understanding your business better by collecting and analyzing user data in real-time.
  • Comparing sales data across different time periods, sales channels or geographic regions to get deeper insights into your opportunities.
  • Measuring student attendance and performance to easily see where to allocate resources.
  • Tracking and visualizing financial data to uncover high- and low-performing areas of your company, so you can make adjustments going forward.

By learning some relatively simple techniques, you can create dashboards that are automated, interactive and visually appealing. They’ll get people’s attention and wow your colleagues and bosses.

This course covers everything you need to know about building beautiful business dashboards with Google Sheets and Google Data Studio.

Build dashboards with Google Sheets and Data Studio

This course is dashboard-focused and entirely practical. Concepts are taught through real-life examples, starting with a basic static dashboard all the way through to the complex web marketing dashboard you can see in the screenshot above.

The course covers data visualization and dashboard best practices, dynamic dashboards, how to use Google Forms to collect data, how to import external data, how to use Apps Script to automate processes and add extra features, Google’s new dashboard tool, Data Studio, and much, much more.

What you get when you enroll:

> Over 9 hours of video content.

> Lifetime access to all the content, to learn at your own pace.

> Copies of all the finished dashboard templates for the five dashboard examples and the one Data Studio report.

> Access to all the raw data files, copies of the formulas and links to online documentation and other great resources.

> Membership to our dedicated Facebook group where you can post questions and get answers, share insights and interact with other students.

Dashboard course preview

What others say about the course:

I’d recommend this course for anyone trying to make great dashboards in Google Sheets. Ben is a great teacher and he explains everything very thoroughly. Five stars from me.
– Jakob R.
This course is a fantastic way to discover how to build dashboards. Ben takes you step by step through what you need to do and his approach is well thought and organised. The information covers the basics and introduces more complex subjects in a simple and easy to follow format.
– Marilyn C.
Testimonial image
Testimonial image Everyone talks about data culture in companies, but only a few know how to do it. Good dashboards are a great first step to democratize access to data in a simple way, and this course will definitely change the way you see your data today.
– Gabriel O.

Are you ready to start building
beautiful, functional dashboards?

Any other questions? Leave a comment or drop me a line here.

How to create a waterfall chart in Google Sheets

In this post, we’ll look at how to create a waterfall chart in Google Sheets.

Waterfall charts are real. And useful. They show the cumulative effect of a series of positive and/or negative values on an initial starting value.

The following waterfall chart shows the headcount changes for a department, visually depicting the cumulative effect of the additions and deletions to the start value:

Headcount Waterfall Chart

It shows the number of staff in our department at the start of the year (left grey bar), the number of people added from other departments or as new hires (green bars), the number of people who left (red bars) and finally the balance which is the headcount at the end of the year (right grey bar).

The waterfall chart above is relatively easy to create in Google Sheets but does still require some data wrangling to set it up. Notice that all of the bars are above the x-axis (Case 1), which makes the data set up vastly simpler than the case when we have a mix of bars above and below the x-axis, or spanning the x-axis (see Case 2 below).

I’ll show you how to create both of these cases, starting with the easier, positive-bar case.

After creating the simple and complex versions manually with formulas, I’ll show you some Apps Script code to automate the majority of the process and massively speed up creating complex waterfall charts.

Templates are available for all three methods, with links at the end of each section and at the end of this post.
Continue reading How to create a waterfall chart in Google Sheets

Animated Data Visualization of Washington D.C.’s warming temperatures

I love animated charts where the animation is central to the storytelling; where it adds value, rather than being simply fancy decoration.

When it’s done well, it can be extremely powerful, mesmerizing and compelling.

One of the best examples I’ve seen is Bloomberg’s animated temperature visualization. I love how powerfully this chart conveys its message, and I’ve been semi-obsessed with it ever since I saw it.

So, over the past few weeks and since my last experiment with the Google Visualization API, I’ve been chipping away at this project to create an animated temperature chart within the Google environment. It’s finally in a state I can share here, however it’s what you might call an MVP still…

Here’s my animated temperature chart built with the Google Visualization API connecting to Washington D.C. data in a Google Sheet:

Animated temperature chart using Google Chart API

You can see this animated chart in all its glory here.

Continue reading Animated Data Visualization of Washington D.C.’s warming temperatures

Recreating Tufte’s famous weather chart with Google Sheets and Charts API

My Twitter feed is mostly populated with data-related resources and people, so I almost always find something new and shiny going on there to distract me.

Sometimes this can be a good thing though (and sometimes, it can be the best thing ever).

Take last Friday. I found myself procrastinating, browsing my home feed when I saw this tweet for the upcoming Microsoft Data Science summit:

Tufte temp chart tweet

What caught my eye was not the actual tweet, but the sumptuous weather visualization that I recognized as one of Edward Tufte’s famous creations.

I clicked through to the article, which linked to Tufte’s original chart (here) and a fantastic tutorial about re-creating the chart using R, from Brad Boehmke (which is actually the chart shown in the tweet above).

It looks at daily average temperature over a period of time and captures the historic min/max range, the normal range (95% confidence interval), the 2014 temperature line and picks out the highs and lows. It renders all of this information in a single, beautiful column/line combination chart.

Curiousity piqued, I wondered whether this would be possible with Google Sheets?

The short answer is….. Continue reading Recreating Tufte’s famous weather chart with Google Sheets and Charts API

Makeover Monday Tableau Challenge: Theft in Japan

Radial Tableau chart

Chart showing the number of reported thefts in Japan in 2012, part of the Makeover Monday data visualization series, run by Andy Kreibel and Andy Cotgreave.

Design inspired by Japanese hand fans like this one. I had some fun with this one and took some liberties to create a piece more in the data-art camp than a serious data visualization.

At heart, it’s a radial bar chart with a background image. I’m indebted to this useful blog post, which showed me how to do all the hard stuff: How-to create radial bar charts from Interworks.

Web traffic chart with dynamic banding in Google Sheets

This is a simple but effective technique for adding dynamic bands to your charts, which are useful to highlight specific parts of your chart.

For example, in this chart of website pageviews, I’ve added bands to show weekdays or weekends and make it easier to see the changing trends.

Chart with dynamic banding

Continue reading Web traffic chart with dynamic banding in Google Sheets

Creating a d3 chart with data from Google Sheets

In the following image, I have two browser windows open. On the left, a Google Sheet containing a simple table of data. In the right browser window, a web page with a d3 chart that displays the data from the Google Sheet and can be refreshed dynamically when the data changes.

d3 + Google Sheets

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Multi-line chart with custom range banding in Tableau

It’s easy in Excel. So it should be easy in Tableau right? Well, not quite.

There’s a little trickery involved! But we likes that, don’t we my precious…

I have 200 unique regions in my dataset so I wanted the chart to show a range from the min to the max. Then I wanted to overlay an average line and a specific, selected region.

Continue reading Multi-line chart with custom range banding in Tableau

Excel tutorial: build a dynamic bump chart of the English Premier League

Premier League team performance

Find your team: See the history of each of the 47 teams in the Premier League here.

In this post I’ll show you how to create a dynamic bump chart like the one above, using historical data for the English Premier League going back to 1992-93 when it was created.

Continue reading Excel tutorial: build a dynamic bump chart of the English Premier League