How to Create A Bubble Chart in Google Sheets [Easy]

Bubble charts are a great way to visually compare data points. These will allow the user to compare her three different numeric variables. Most other types of Google Sheets charts cannot do this.

Creating a bubble chart in Google Sheets is very easy, but to create the most effective chart you need to set up your data properly.

Follow this bubble chart Google Sheets guide to learn everything there is to know about this handy chart type.

What Is a Bubble Chart?

A bubble chart is a two-dimensional data presentation that displays multiple circles or bubbles. This is similar to a scatterplot, but uses bubbles instead of dots and shows the density of data points by including her third number in the size of each of these bubbles.

Therefore, bubble charts typically display the values ​​of three numeric variables, with the data for each observation represented by a bubble, and the values ​​of the other two variables displayed at the horizontal and vertical positions of the bubble.

Bubble charts require at least three variables, which are columns or rows of data. Two of them should reflect the horizontal and vertical position of the point and one should show the size of the bubble.

Types of Bubble Charts

Now that we know what bubble charts are, let’s take a look at some of their types. These include:

  • Labeled – Labeled bubble charts allow you to add labels to individual bubbles. Usually this is only possible in situations where the amount of data points is limited.
  • Color-coded numeric variables – Color-coded bubble charts allow you to use colors to represent variables. This makes it easy to distinguish each variable from others. This is especially useful when you have groups of data that you want to easily distinguish.
  • Map – You can create bubbles on top of the map. These are commonly called cartograms. Vertical and horizontal positions are latitude and longitude. Make this conceptually identical to the previous type. The main difference is that an image is used for the background.
  • Bubble Clouds – Another type of bubble chart is the bubble cloud, commonly referred to as circle packing or overlapping bubble charts. In this case, the circles are placed so that they fit tightly together.

Why Use a Bubble Chart in Google Sheets

A key way to make decisions based on data is data visualization. Useful for analysis and comparison. Bubble charts can be used to display extensive data sets with more than two dimensions. Many other chart types do not allow you to easily compare three values ​​like this.

How to Make a Bubble Chart in Google Sheets

To create a bubble chart in Google Sheets you need to follow these steps:

Step 1: Open Google Sheets in your browser. For this example, click Blank under Start New Spreadsheet. A new spreadsheet will open.

Step 2: We need to add the data to the spreadsheet. The data needs to be in a specific format for bubble charts to work properly. The format followed to create the bubble chart in this example is:

  • Column A – Label
  • Column B – X-axis values
  • Column C – Y-axis values
  • Column D – Color
  • Column E – Bubble size

Step 3: Click and drag the cursor to highlight all cells in the dataset. This also includes the top label. Click Insert in the top bar, then click Chart. This will insert the histogram into your spreadsheet.

Step 4 : In the chart editor that appears on the right side of the screen, click an option under Chart Type. So, click Bubble Chart under the Scatter Plot category. Changes are immediately reflected on the chart.

As you can see, this chart not only makes it easy to compare which teams have similar scoring and winning values, but the size of the bubble also shows the average individual performance of the teams.

Now that you’ve created your chart, let’s see how you can customize it to your liking.

How to Customize a Bubble Chart in Sheets

To customize your bubble chart, go to the chart editor. To do this, click on the chart and click on his three dots icon on the top right. Then click “Edit Chart.

In the chart editor, switch to the tab by clicking the Customize button. Here you can customize various attributes of your bubble chart. This includes color, size and opacity.

When to Use a Bubble Chart

Bubble charts, like scatter charts, are primarily used to show correlations between numeric variables. However, including the marked area as a variable allows us to compare three variables instead of simply two. You can perform three different comparisons (X and Y, Y and Z, and X and Z) and three-way comparisons in one bubble chart.

A large number of bivariate scatterplots would be required to get the same detailed insight. Even then, directly estimating the three-way links between data points is more difficult than with bubble charts.

A three-column data table is used to create the bubble chart. The vertical and horizontal position of each point is represented by two columns, and its size is represented by the third column. One point is plotted for each column and row in the table.

Advantages of Bubble Chart in Google Sheets

Generating bubble charts in Google Sheets has many advantages. These include:

  • Everything in Google Sheets is online, so you don’t have to worry about saving your charts to your computer.
  • Remote collaboration is great with Google Sheets. Collaborate with your team by sharing your bubble chart layouts.
  • When creating bubble charts in Sheets, you can add text boxes, change the background color, connect text to appropriate lines, and more.

Disadvantages of a Bubble Chart in Sheets

A bubble chart is the ideal graphic organizer when you want to discuss a new concept, problem, or point of view with someone on your team. However, there are some drawbacks to creating bubble charts in spreadsheets. These include:

  • Spreadsheets lack the features needed to create sophisticated bubble charts compared to Excel.
  • To access better bubble chart functionality, you’ll need to make use of third-party extensions in your spreadsheet.
  • Spreadsheets always run online and are enabled by default, so unless you enable the offline option, your work will inevitably become inaccessible when there is minimal or no internet. However, using this will prevent the spreadsheet from updating automatically.

Tips for Creating a Data Visualization With a Bubble Chart

When creating bubble charts in spreadsheets, here are some suggestions to consider to avoid costly errors down the road.

  • Be sure to highlight the appropriate data in your spreadsheet.
  • Use keyboard shortcuts to be more productive in your spreadsheets. You can find these keyboard shortcuts online.
  • Lock cells to stop unwanted changes to your spreadsheet.

Bubble Charts Best Practices

Here are some best practices for creating bubble charts in Google Sheets:

Scale the Bubble Area With Value

Scaling the diameter or radius of a point to match the value of a third variable is one simple mistake that is easy to make. With this type of scaling, points that have twice the value of other points are quadrupled in size, making their values ​​appear much larger than they actually are.

Based on how the bubble chart is constructed, you may need to adjust the data to consider how to convert the data values ​​to point sizes. Be careful when setting the value to Radius or Diameter instead of Area, as many visualization tools do this automatically.

Limit the Number of Points

If the points are all small in size, the chances of overlapping are very high, so bubble charts are often created with the points transparent. Duplication also limits the maximum amount of data points that can be plotted while maintaining readability. You can see this a little in this example, but when more data points overlap, it becomes very difficult to read.

Even if there are no hard and fast rules about which dataset is suitable, it’s important to remember when creating bubble charts. If you think you have too many plots, it might be worth considering techniques for summarizing the data or using new chart types to display the data.

Incorporate Negative Values

Shapes can’t contain negative areas, so you can’t simply give the size in points as an encoding to a variable that accepts negative values. To indicate a negative value, we need to encode more information into the shape size.

For example, you might represent positive values ​​with bullets and negative values ​​with bullets. You can also use positive points in one hue and negative points in another contrasting color.

Show a Clear Trend

If you are considering using bubble charts to communicate information to others, make sure you can clearly see patterns using point size as a measure of importance. Experiment with the order in which the variables are plotted when creating the graph. The horizontal and vertical axes should contain the two most important variables or relationships.

Add a Legend

Including a legend in the plot helps the viewer understand how the disk size of the various bubble charts in Google Sheets relates to the value of the third variable. Scales on the axes make it relatively easy to evaluate and compare numbers according to their vertical or horizontal length and position.

Bubble Chart Google Sheets FAQ

How Do I Make a Bubble Chart in Google Sheets?

Select the data to insert into the bubble chart. Click Insert in the top bar, then click Chart. In the chart editor that appears on the right side of the screen, click an option under Chart Type. So, click Bubble Chart under the Scatter Plot category. Changes are immediately reflected on the chart.

How Do You Make a Bubble Chart With 3 Variables?

To create a proper bubble chart, the data in your spreadsheet should follow this format:

  • Column A – Label
  • Column B – X-axis values
  • Column C – Y-axis values
  • Column D – Color
  • Column E – size

Select your data, click Insert, then click Chart. So, in the chart editor, click bubble chart.

Wrapping Up the Google Sheets Bubble Chart Guide

Charting is one of the best uses of spreadsheet programs, so it’s important to become familiar with as many spreadsheet programs as possible. After following the bubble chart Google Sheets guide above and making sure all your data points are organized correctly, you should be able to create your bubble chart without any worries.

Here are some related guides to help you further your knowledge of charting in Google Sheets:

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