How to Make an XY Graph in Google Sheets

Whether it’s for school, work, research, or simply for fun, creating a graph in Google Sheets can add a compelling visual element to your papers and presentations, while helping to support your data.

Thankfully, Google has made its online tool surprisingly familiar and easy to use, which means that creating a variety of charts in Google Sheets is an incredibly quick and simple process. Here’s how you can make your own XY graph in Google Sheets:

How to format data on Google Sheets

The first step to doing anything in Google Sheets is to enter the relevant data into the Spreadsheet by typing the information into the cells, and making two columns which will be your X and Y axes. When it comes to formatting data, the general rule is that the X-axis is on the left, while the Y-axis is on the right.

Another thing to be aware of is the fact that the X-axis is nearly always categorical, while the Y-axis is nearly always numerical. For example, if you had data showing different countries and their GDP growth, you would put the countries in the first column (X-axis) and the GDP growth rate in the second column (Y-axis).

Even when you’re making more advanced graphs that have more than two variables, it’s always best to follow this general rule.

How to make a graph in Google Sheets

Once your data is typed in and formatted correctly, it’s time to start creating a graph. Here’s how to do it:

  1. The easiest way to make a graph in Google Sheets is to highlight the data you would like to include in your chart. You can do this by clicking on the first cell, and then dragging your cursor over all the other cells containing information that should be included in the graph.
  2. Next, click the Insert menu at the top of the screen, and select Chart from the drop-down menu.
  3. In the Charts Editor that pops up, click on the Charts tab, and then scroll down to choose the type of graph you want. For this type of data, a Scatter graph or a Line graph might be the best option.
  4. Before you exit the Charts Editor, you can click on the Customize tab to edit your graph to your liking. Here are your options:
  • Adding a title – Type in the title (such as “Countries and their GDP growth rate”) into the Chart Title A different title might already be here as a default.
  • Adding axis labels – Scroll down the Customize menu until you find Axis in red. Firstly, add the horizontal axis title (in this case “Country”). For the vertical axis, choose Left Vertical from the Axis drop-down menu, and then type the title into the Title box (in this case “GDP growth rate”).

Although these aspects are necessary for creating a graph, the Customize menu offers a number of different options, including font styles, line sizes and data points. Don’t be afraid to explore this menu, and edit your graph as you wish.

  1. After the customization is complete, click on Insert at the bottom of the Chart Editor.
  2. Your XY graph will now appear in your spreadsheet.

And that’s it; quick and simple! If you want to save your graph to your computer as an Excel file, go to the File menu, click on Download As, and then select Microsoft Excel (.xlsx) to download and save your chart.

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