How To Create A Heat Map In Google Sheets

Heat maps in Google Sheets are a great way to add context to your data.

They bring attention to the high and low values in your data, to outliers that demand attention.

Best of all, heat maps in Google Sheets are easy to create.

Consider this dataset showing monthly temperatures for Washington D.C.:

Temperature Data In Google Sheets

Without any formatting, it’s boring to look at, doesn’t convey any immediate takeaways, and it’s hard to spot trends such as which years were hotter than others.

Now compare that to the same dataset with a heat map overlay (click to enlarge):

Temperature Heat Map In Google Sheets

Wow! The stories jump off the page at you now. You can easily compare the years and see which years had longer winters, or hotter summers.

Let’s see how to create a heat map in Google Sheets.

Continue reading How To Create A Heat Map In Google Sheets

How To Draw The Sierpiński Triangle In Google Sheets

The Sierpiński triangle is a fractal set in the shape of an equilateral triangle, divided into smaller triangles infinitely.

Graphically, we can draw an approximation of the Sierpiński triangle in Google Sheets:

Sierpinski Triangle In Google Sheets

🔗 Get this example and others in the template at the bottom of this article.

It is named after the Polish mathematician Wacław Sierpiński and is also known as the Sierpiński gasket or Sierpiński sieve.

It has the property of being self-similar, meaning it looks the same at any magnification.

See Wikipedia for more on the Sierpiński triangle.

Continue reading How To Draw The Sierpiński Triangle In Google Sheets

Dot Plots In Google Sheets

Dot plots are simple charts consisting of dots plotted on a simple scale, typically used to show small counts or distributions.

Dot plots are one of the simplest statistical charts, only suitable for small-sized data sets. They’re helpful for understanding the “shape” of your data by highlighting clusters, gaps, and outliers. (A histogram is better suited to showing the data distribution of larger datasets, e.g. > 30 datapoints.)

Here’s a table using dot plots to show the hypothetical number of meetings per day for these five employees:

Dot Plot in Google Sheets

How To Create Dot Plots In Google Sheets

You create dot plots in Google Sheets with formulas! 

Suppose we have this data in row 1 of a Google Sheet, in cells A1 to E1:

Data for Dot Plot in Google Sheets

Step 1: 

Create a basic REPT function next to the data, e.g. in cell F1:

=REPT("*",A1)

Step 2:

Next, turn this REPT formula into an array formula:

=ArrayFormula(REPT("*",A1:E1))

Step 3:

Then use the JOIN function and CHAR function to combine the array output. CHAR(10) creates a carriage return, which we use as the delimiter:

=ArrayFormula(JOIN(CHAR(10),REPT("*",A1:E1)))

Step 4 (optional):

Convert the * into circles with the CHAR function:

=ArrayFormula( JOIN(CHAR(10),REPT(CHAR(9679), A1:E1)))

Step 5 (optional):

Rotate the cell up:

Format > Rotation > Rotate up

Here’s an image showing the outputs for these 5 steps in column F:

Dot Plot workings

How To Create Multi-Colored Dot Plots In Google Sheets

Taking this idea one step further, we can add colored symbols to indicate the relative counts.

Here’s an example with green dots for large counts, then orange, and then red dots for the smallest counts:

Multi-Colored Dot Plot in Google Sheets

The formula is more complex and uses the IFS Function to categorize the inputs by relative size:

=ArrayFormula(JOIN(CHAR(10),REPT(IFS(A1:E1/MAX(A1:E1)>0.85,"🟢",A1:E1/MAX(A1:E1)>0.5,"🟠",TRUE,"🔴"),A1:E1)))

How does this formula work?

It’s an array formula that takes an input of the five numbers in columns A to E.

Inside the IFS function, the number (e.g. 7) is divided by the maximum number in the range (10 in this example) and compared to see if it’s bigger than the first threshold (0.85 in this example). If this is true, then the green dot is plotted, otherwise, the threshold is checked (0.5 in this example) If that’s true, then orange dot is used. If that is not true, then the red dot is used as the default.

The REPT function and the JOIN function perform the same way as step 3 above for the simpler single color example.

You can also replace the colored dots in this formula with their CHAR function equivalents, to keep it entirely formula driven:

=ArrayFormula(JOIN(CHAR(10),REPT(IFS(A1:E1/MAX(A1:E1)>0.85,CHAR(128994),A1:E1/MAX(A1:E1)>0.5,CHAR(128992),TRUE,CHAR(128308)),A1:E1)))

As a final step, don’t forget to rotate the cell text up, to get the dots plotted as columns rather than bars.

Notes

This Dot Plot technique first appeared in issue 188 of my weekly Google Sheets Tips newsletter. Signup here if you’d like to receive it!.

Thanks to reader Marcel L. for his sharing his idea for the multi-colored dot plot.

Radial Bar Charts in Google Sheets

In this post, I’m going to show you how to create radial bar charts in Google Sheets.

Radial Bar Chart in Google Sheets

They look great and grab your attention, which is important in this era of information overload.

But they should be used sparingly because they’re harder to read than a regular bar chart (because it’s harder to compare the length of the curved bars).

How To Create A Radial Bar Chart In Google Sheets

Let’s begin with the data.

In this example, we’ll create a radial bar chart in Google Sheets with 3 series.

We need a column of values for these 3 series, for example, products with a number of units sold.

Next, we need some upper limit (max value) for our bars. This allows us to scale the bars properly.

Lastly, we need a helper column that calculates the difference between the max value and the actual value.

Here’s the data for the radial bar chart, in cells E3:H6:

Radial bar chart data table with Formula

Ok, I’m going to let you in on a little secret now…

This is not a single chart. No sir, it’s three charts overlaid on top of each other.

And yes, this means it takes three times as long to create!

Step 1: Create the inner circle

Highlight the first row of data but exclude the max value column. In the example dataset above, highlight E4:G4 and insert a chart.

Select a doughnut chart.

Under the Setup menu, make sure to check the “Switch rows/columns” checkbox, so your chart looks like this:

Donut chart in Google Sheets

Under the customize menu of the chart tool, set the following conditions:

  • Background color: None
  • Chart border color: None
  • Donut hole size: 67%
  • Set Slice 2 color to none
  • Remove the chart title
  • Set the legend to none

This is what the inner donut should look like:

Donut chart in Google Sheets

Step 2: Create the middle circle

Repeat the steps above for the inner circle, but use the next row of data, choose a different color, and set the donut hole size to 77% (you may have to experiment with these percentages to line everything up at the end).

Drag the second donut chart on top of the first and line up the radial bars to get:

Radial Bar Chart in Google Sheets

Step 3: Create the outer circle

Again, repeat the steps above from the inner circle to create a third donut chart, using the third row of data, a different color, and setting the donut hole size to 81% (again, this might need tweaking to line everything up).

Drag this third donut chart on top of the other two and you have a radial bar chart in Google Sheets!

Radial Bar Chart in Google Sheets

Note on editing charts:

Since the charts are placed on top of each other, you’ll only be able to access the top chart to edit. You’ll have to move it to the side to access the chart underneath, and then move that one if you want to access the inner chart.

Step 4: Add the data labels

It gets messy to add the data labels to each chart through the chart editor, so I opted to create formulas to add my data labels into the cells next to each bar of the radial bar chart.

To access cells underneath the charts, click on a cell outside of the chart area and then use the arrow keys on your keyboard to reach the desired cell.

Once there, add the following formula:

=E6&": "&TEXT(F6,"#,0")

This formula uses the TEXT function to combine text and numbers in Google Sheets.

This shows the series name and value alongside each bar:

Data labels for radial bar chart in Google Sheets

To finish, remove the gridlines from your Sheet to give the chart a clean look.

Radial Bar Chart in Google Sheets

Can I see an example worksheet for the radial bar chart?

Yes, here you go.

Real World Examples of Radial Bar Charts

My friend Jeff Sauer, who founded Data Driven U to teach people data-driven marketing, contacted me recently about creating a radial bar chart for one of his workshops.

He is graciously sharing his report here, so you can see a radial bar chart with six rings:

Data Driven U chart

This is a screenshot of his Google Sheet!

(If you’re looking for top draw digital marketing, then you should definitely check out Jeff’s site: DataDrivenU.com This is not an affiliate link, just a personal recommendation!)

You’ve probably also seen a radial bar chart in the wild with the Apple Watch Rings Chart!

Apple Watch Ring Chart

How To Create A Grid Chart In Google Sheets

Earlier this year, The Washington Post told a story about the effects of Coronavirus on the US workforce, and illustrated the story with grid charts.

Grid charts can show you the breakdown of the whole into constituent parts, to allow at-a-glance understanding of the big picture.

In this post, I’ll show you how to create a Grid Chart in Google Sheets.

💡 This was tip #128 of my weekly Google Sheets newsletter. Join over 35k+ others and receive the Google Sheets Tips newsletter for exclusive tips, tricks and Google Sheets news.

Grid Chart

Here’s a fictitious grid chart example in Google Sheets, showing how students fared in an exam:

Grid Chart in Google Sheets

Changing the percentages in the cells above the chart will automatically adjust the chart colors to match.

How to create a grid chart in Google Sheets

1. Enter a % value in cell A1 e.g. 73%

2. Underneath, in cell A3, enter this SEQUENCE formula:

=SEQUENCE(10,10)

This outputs a 10 by 10 grid of ascending numbers from 1 to 100.

3. Next, adjust the column widths (and row heights) so that the cells are square.

4. Wrap the sequence function with an IF statement and ArrayFormula to check whether the value in a given cell is greater than the threshold percentage:

=ArrayFormula(IF(SEQUENCE(10,10)>A1*100,2,1))

Your output now will look like this:

Grid Chart in Google Sheets

5. Highlight the 10 by 10 grid and add two conditional formatting rules:

  • Green cell background if the value “Is equal to 1”
  • Grey cell background if the value “Is equal to 2”

Conditional Formatting in Google Sheets

6. With the 10 by 10 grid highlighted, add thick white borders to separate the grids. Turn off the gridlines for the Sheet too, for an even cleaner look.

7. Keeping the grid highlighted, change the number format to a custom number format with the emoji symbol: 👤

Format > Number > More formats > Custom number format, then paste in the emmoji: 👤

Custom Number Rule in Google Sheets

This changes all the values to 👤, regardless of whether it’s a 1 or a 2.

8. Finally, center-align the values horizontally and vertically:

Grid Chart in Google Sheets

Nice!

When you change the % value, the chart will adjust automatically for you.

3-Color Grid Chart

Grid Chart in Google Sheets

To create the 3-color chart shown above, add an additional percentage value and modify the formula to compare against both percentage figures using two IF statements, e.g.:

=ArrayFormula(IF(SEQUENCE(10,10)<=A1*100,1,IF(SEQUENCE(10,10)<=((A2+A1)*100),2,3)))

In the second conditional test, you’ll notice I need to add percentage 1 and 2 together, to get the cumulative value at that point in time.

You also need to add an extra conditional formatting rule for the cells that have the value 3.

Google Sheets Grid Chart Template

Click here to open the Google Sheets Grid Chart template.

This will open a view-only version of the template. Feel free to make your own copy: File > Make a copy

(If you’re unable to open this file it may be because it’s from an outside organization, and my G Suite domain is not whitelisted at your organization. You may be able to ask your G Suite administrator about this.

In the meantime, feel free to open in an incognito window to view it.)