How to create a bar chart in Google Sheets

Since data has become one of the most valuable assets for businesses of all sectors, effective data visualization is a must for anyone dealing with numbers. Charts and graphs are useful tools for translating raw data into valuable insights. Among the various chart types, the bar chart is a versatile and widely used option.

Although creating a bar chart may sound intimidating if you’re not a spreadsheet pro, you can easily build charts when you follow the right steps. By using Google Sheets, you have an accessible and user-friendly tool to create graphs and charts. 

In this step-by-step guide, we’ll walk you through the process of creating visually-appealing bar charts in Google Sheets. Before we dive into the technical aspects, let’s understand what bar charts are and when to use them.

What are bar charts?

Bar charts, also known as bar graphs, are one of the most popular and widely used types of data visualization presenting data with rectangular bars that have lengths or heights proportional to the values they represent. 

Not only are they effective for displaying and comparing data across different categories, but they are also useful for showing the relationships between data points.

What are the advantages of using bar charts?

Bar charts offer several advantages when it comes to visualizing data:

Simplicity: bar charts are easy to understand, making them a great choice for presenting data to a broad audience, including those who may not have a strong background in data analysis. In addition, creating a bar chart is typically straightforward and doesn’t require advanced technical skills. 

Comparison: if you want to draw a comparison between categories or data points, bar charts will come in handy. By learning how to create a bar chart in Google Sheets, you can easily compare and present data.

Clarity: they provide a clear visual representation of data, helping viewers identify trends, patterns, and outliers at a glance.

Compatibility: most data visualization and spreadsheet software support bar charts, making it easy to create them using familiar tools.

Storytelling: bar charts can be used to tell a story effectively. By arranging data logically and using appropriate annotations, you can guide your audience through your data narrative.

Key features of bar charts

Some of the key features of bar charts include:

Categories or groups: bar graphs typically have categories or groups along the horizontal axis (x-axis). Each category represents a distinct data point or group.

Vertical or horizontal orientation: bar charts can be oriented either vertically or horizontally. In a vertical bar chart, the bars rise vertically from the x-axis. In a horizontal chart, the bars extend horizontally from the y-axis. Horizontal charts are often called column charts.

Axis labels: these charts include labeled axes to provide context. While the x-axis (horizontal) or y-axis (vertical) displays category labels, the opposite axis displays the scale of measurement or values.

Title and legends: a title or caption often accompanies the chart to provide an overview of the data being presented to help the audience read the graph and make sense of the data.

Color: you can use colors to differentiate between categories or to highlight specific data points. However, it’s essential to use colors purposefully and ensure they are accessible to all viewers.

How to create a bar chart in Google Sheets

Now that we know what bar charts are and what are the advantages of using them to present data, let’s learn how to create a bar chart in Google Sheets.

In this example, we’ll use a spreadsheet that contains the monthly sales figures for six different departments (Accessories, Audio, Camera, Computers, Mobile, and TV) over the course of a year.

How to create a bar chart in Google Sheets 1

First, let’s create a bar chart to compare the total sales for each month of the year. Click Insert and select Chart.

How to create a bar chart in Google Sheets 2

Now it’s time to build the chart. Select Column to create a vertical bar chart.

How to create a bar chart in Google Sheets 3

Select the range of data for the X-axis. These will be the months of the year: B1:B8. Then, add a series by selecting the range of the data you want to visualize: B8:M8.

How to create a bar chart in Google Sheets 4

Now I can customize the chart. After selecting Customize, I’ll add a title: Total sales per month. You can also choose a font, change the text color and format the text.

How to create a bar chart in Google Sheets 5

You can also change the color of the bars and customize the entire chart to your liking.

How to create a bar chart in Google Sheets 6

Here the possibilities are endless. Choose your favorite colors, fonts and sizes and background.

How to create a bar chart in Google Sheets 7

Stacked charts

If you want to visualize sales by department per month, you can create a stacked chart. I’ll select Stacked column chart and add all the series I want to visualize.

How to create a bar chart in Google Sheets 8

If you select Customize and click Series, you can customize the colors to your liking.

How to create a bar chart in Google Sheets 9

In this example, by building a stacked chart, I can compare multiple variables over time.

Horizontal bar charts

Let’s say you want to visualize the total sales by department, but you want to present the data with horizontal bars. In this case, select Bar chart to build a horizontal bar chart. Select the range of data for the Y-axis and add the series.

How to create a bar chart in Google Sheets 10

You can also customize the fonts, colors and sizes. By adding data labels, you’ll be able to visualize all the values.

How to create a bar chart in Google Sheets 11

Conclusion

These are some examples of bar charts that you can easily create in Google Sheets. By learning how to create bar charts in Google Sheets, you can help your audience analyze and compare data quickly and efficiently. If you want to create full reports, check out his article on how to create a dashboard in Google Sheets.

Ready to streamline your spreadsheet data?

You may also like…