Watch: How to create a combo chart in Google Sheets
Data visualization is one of the advantages of using spreadsheets for data entry. Using line and bar charts separately makes it easier to understand the data points, but in many cases it’s a good idea to combine them into a Google Sheets combo chart. This allows you to make direct comparisons between data points, identify correlations, and predict data-driven decisions.
This guide will tell you everything you need to know about combo charts in Google Sheets and provide some practical step-by-step examples to follow. Download the sample spreadsheet and continue reading to learn more.
- 1 What Is a Google Sheet Combo Chart?
- 2 When Should You Use a Combo Chart?
- 3 Elements of a Combo Chart Google Sheets
- 4 How to Make a Combo Chart in Google Sheets
- 5 How to Edit the Visual Appearance of Your Combine Charts in Google Sheets
- 6 How to Understand a Google Sheets Combo Chart
- 7 Best Practices for a Combo Chart in Google Sheets
- 8 Frequently Asked Questions
- 9 Wrapping Up the Google Sheets Combo Chart Guide
What Is a Google Sheet Combo Chart?
Google Sheets typically combines column and line charts to create a combo chart. However, you can also combine two line charts or column charts into one chart.
Simply put, a combo chart in Google Sheets combines two or more different chart styles such as bar charts and dual axis lines. When viewing insights from data, using many chart types in one view simplifies direct comparison and correlation of data points.
To create a combo chart, you need two datasets with a common string field such as time. You can take advantage of this visualization design to view your data in a variety of ways. Additionally, it serves as the basis for other complex graphs such as 80/20 and Pareto representations. To create a combo chart, you need two datasets with a common string field such as time.
When Should You Use a Combo Chart?
Combination charts are a useful complement to many reports and presentations because they provide a versatile way of displaying data. They serve as the basis for analytical techniques such as Pareto analysis.
Using combo charts is ideal in the following situations:
- Case for different data types, such as quantity and price.
- When you need to show relationships or trends between two or more data types.
- When the results of the data differ greatly depending on the data type.
- When you need to identify outliers in your data.
- If you want to see the shape of the data instead of the actual data values in your spreadsheet.
Elements of a Combo Chart Google Sheets
Each combo chart may differ significantly from the next, but they share some points of similarity.
The most important element of this visualization design is the data. Make sure you have enough data samples before creating a combo chart. To get the most out of this chart, use data that contains a variety of metrics of interest. To plot two graphs on one plane, you also need one common data axis.
To successfully complete the goal, we need points that can be plotted together on one of the axes. Over time is perfect for the y-axis of combo charts. You can visualize your data using a variety of tools and combination graph layouts.
Label your graphics appropriately, but not unnecessarily, so that your audience understands the context of your data story. You can include legends and titles to help readers understand your findings. Also, naming your chart will help distinguish it from other charts and prevent confusion when using Google Sheets his dashboard.
How to Make a Combo Chart in Google Sheets
Now that you know the basics, let’s see how to combine two charts in Google Sheets. In this example, we have a set of data representing sales for a year, projected sales, and the difference between them. I would like to represent the sales next to the forecasted sales data and display the difference as a line.
Here’s how to combine two charts in Google Sheets:
- Click the first cell that contains data and drag your cursor over the data to select it. Be sure to include labels in the data headings. The highlighted data is represented by a thick blue border, and the data is highlighted in light blue.
- Click the Insert button on the main top bar. This will open a drop-down menu. Then click the “Chart” button. This will open the chart editor on the right side of the screen.
- Click Settings at the top of the window and you’ll see a section where you can choose the type of chart you want to see.
- Clicking the box under Chart Type opens a new menu that allows you to change the chart type. Scroll down to find the Combo Chart option.
If you change the chart type to a combo chart, you’ll probably notice that your data doesn’t display as expected. The first thing to do here is change how the combo chart is displayed. To do this, follow these steps:
- You can change the appearance of your graph by clicking the Customize button at the top of the graph editor.
- Click “Series” to expand that section.
- At the top of the section, you’ll see the Apply to All Series button. Click to open a dropdown menu where you can select the series to apply the changes to. In this case, we would like to change the forecast sales data from a line chart to a column chart.
- There, click Type in the Format section to change the type of chart you want to display. In this case, I would like to make a bar chart.
I wanted to change the series to a bar chart, but it could be changed differently depending on the data points. So feel free to make changes to your heart’s desires. When finished, close the window by clicking the cross icon in the top right of the chart editor. Changes made to the graph are automatically saved.
How to Edit the Visual Appearance of Your Combine Charts in Google Sheets
Double-click the chart to open the chart editor on the right side of the screen that opens. Select Customize from the top editor menu. Here you can change the chart design and brand the chart with your business colors and other visual effects.
Let’s take a look at the steps required to change the appearance of a combined chart in Google Sheets:
- Click a chart to highlight it. This is indicated by a blue border around the edge of the chart.
- Now click on the three vertical dots icon in the upper right part of the chart. This will open a dropdown menu with a list of options to choose from.
- Here, select the Edit Graph option. This will open the familiar chart editor on the right side of your screen.
- Clicking the “Customize” button at the top reveals a section where you can change the appearance of the chart.
- First, I’d like to change the title to something more descriptive of the data. To do this, click the Chart and Axis Titles option. This will allow you to rename various elements in your spreadsheet.
- In the first option, select the Graph Title option.
- So enter a new name for the title in the Title Text text box.
- Now I would like to change the fill color of the bars in the combo chart. To do this, click Series in the Customize section. Then select the series whose color you want to change.
- After selecting a series, feel free to change the options. If you want to change the color of the bars, click on the Fill Color option and select a color of your choice.
Things You Can Edit in the Chart Editor
Now that you know how to merge charts in Google Sheets, let’s take a look at some of the things you can edit within a chart:
- All elements of the chart can be changed here.
- Borders, text, and backgrounds are all customizable in this section.
- Smooth: This option removes rough edges in line charts.
- Max: This removes the white border gap and increases the size to the max.
- Plot Null Values: Turn this on or off to show or remove null or blank values.
- Comparison mode: You can compare with previous values.
Chart and Axis Titles
Here you can change the chart title, title color, font, and other parameters.
- Series can be used to change the visualization of combination graphs.
- When you open it for the first time, it is set to “Apply to all series”. You can adjust it according to the series you want to edit.
- You can now change the type (column, area, line), color, dash type, opacity, thickness, and axis sides.
- Additionally, there are options for error bars, trendlines, data labels, and more. All of these can increase the effectiveness of messages in your data.
The position, color and font of the legend can all be changed in this section.
The position, color, font, and tilt of the horizontal axis can all be changed.
The vertical axis position, font, scale, number format, minimum and maximum values, and color can all be changed.
Ticks and Gridlines
- Both the vertical and horizontal scales and grid lines are editable.
- In this case, the vertical axis has several options. You can choose different tick marks and grid lines. You can also adjust the interval, number, steps, and color.
- In this example, the horizontal axis has only one option and a tick mark along it.
Related article: How to create a pie chart in Google Sheets
How to Understand a Google Sheets Combo Chart
Having combo charts in your spreadsheet is nice, but it’s useless if you can’t interpret the data. Here’s a quick guide to understanding combo charts in Google Sheets.
Understand the Important Data Points
Understanding a chart requires understanding the context and key metrics. For example, if you use a combo chart to compare sales across teams, you need to understand how certain sales data relate to your workplace and your company’s strategic goals.
Examine the Pattern
Look at the bars and lines in the combo chart to understand the overall pattern. Record your highest and lowest score. Also consider adding best-fit lines to your charts to help identify trends in your data.
Observations that deviate from trends or patterns in the data are called outliers. Because these are idiosyncratic events, outliers can mislead decision makers. Finding outliers in your data is easy. Here is an example: Imagine that sales at your workplace or employer have increased over the past three years. However, it dropped by 70% in a month before returning to average sales. This singular event may have been caused by a pandemic or other extreme external factors.
In many cases this data can be ignored. Outliers in the chart can be identified because they are not near other data points in the combo chart.
Best Practices for a Combo Chart in Google Sheets
Here are some best practices to follow when considering how to combine charts in Google Sheets
Bar vs. Column
Instead of using both columns and bars, choose to use one or the other. Notice the contrast between the two. The bar chart is horizontal. A column chart, on the other hand, has a vertical shape. Decisions should be made by the intended audience. Column charts are usually best used in conjunction with line charts or as histograms in Google Sheets.
The two Y-axes in the chart should be displayed using contrasting colors. Don’t forget to include a legend so your readers/viewers understand the importance of your data.
As a visual data storyteller, you’ll definitely want to populate your Google Sheets Combo Chart with information. But remember, clutter may not get you the buy-in you want. Too many details can hide important lessons you want your audience to understand.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Are Combo Charts?
A combo chart combines two or more different chart styles, such as bar charts and dual axis lines. When viewing insights from your data, different chart types can help you see trends in your data.
What Are Combo Charts Used For?
Combination charts allow you to present insight into many metrics from a single perspective. It can also be used to graphically highlight changes between data categories. If your goal is to save space and create lean data visualization dashboards, this chart should be your go-to tool.
How Do I Add a Series to a Combo Chart in Google Sheets?
To add a new series to an existing combo chart, first click on the chart to go to the chart editor, then click on the three vertical dots in the top right corner of the screen. In the chart editor, make sure you’re in the Settings section. To do this, click Setup on the main top bar. In the Series section, click the Add Series button. Now click the box icon to open a text box in the center of the screen. You can enter a range of cells for the new series you want to add to your spreadsheet.
Can You Do a Stacked Bar Combo Chart in Google Sheets?
To create a stacked bar combo chart, first click on the chart to go to the chart editor, then click on the three vertical dots in the top right corner of the screen. In the chart editor, make sure you’re in the Settings section. To do this, click Setup on the main top bar. There, click the Stacked option under Chart Type and select Standard. This converts a regular bar chart into a stacked bar chart. You can also change the color of the bars in the chart by clicking , going to the Customize section, and then clicking Series. Select the series you want to change the color of and change the fill color.
Wrapping Up the Google Sheets Combo Chart Guide
We’ve shown you how to set up a combo chart in Google Sheets and customize it by editing parameters. Combo charts are great, but sometimes you need to use other charts as well. Check out our other charting guides to learn everything there is to know about this area of Google Sheets.