Google Slides is an amazing presentation tool with the ability to create complex slideshows. Its easy-to-use interface and online sharing capabilities give it a leg up over other programs, and one of the many things you can create with Google Slides is a graph or chart.
To keep this simple, here’s how to create a chart in Google Slides, along with some basic graphic design tips to make sure you’re building the best data visualizations possible.
How to Create a Google Slides Chart
The first thing you’ll need to do is set up your slideshow, either by creating a brand new file or by opening a document that’s already in progress.
If you have already created a graph or chart outside of Google Slides, the process of including one is extremely simple. Just go Insert > Image, then place your image file in the presentation.
If you want to create a chart in Google Slides directly, there are a few more steps involved.
To create a graph or chart in Google Slides, click Insert > Chart, then choose the style of chart that you want to include. For this tutorial, we’re going to go with a very simple bar graph.
Once you choose a chart style, Google Slides will populate a pre-made chart into your slideshow.
To tailor this Google Slides chart, click on the dropdown arrow in the top right-hand corner of this pre-made chart. Choose Open source. This will allow you to begin editing.
Note: In this tutorial, we are not going to talk about collecting data, only how you can design a chart for Google Slides.
If you’re looking for ways to collect data for a chart, here’s the best guide to Google Forms you’ll need.
Step 1: Learn About Your Chart Editor
Once you click Open source, Google Slides will take you to a pre-made Google spreadsheet.
In this spreadsheet, you will see columns listing the data points in your chart, along with the number values attached to them. You’ll also see a miniature version of your chart just beneath that.
Double-click on this chart to open your Chart editor.
Your Chart editor will open on the far side of your spreadsheet, seen here in red. In it, you will find the two sections where you can customize a chart in Google Slides: Setup and Customize.
Setup allows you to control top-level design and data options for your chart, from Chart type, to Stacking, and Data range.
Customize is full of different dropdown menus where you can adjust Chart style, Chart & axis titles, Series, Legend, Horizontal axis, Vertical axis, and Gridlines.
Under Chart style specifically, you can adjust:
- The Background color of your chart.
- The Chart border color.
- The default Font for this chart.
Under Chart & axis titles, you can adjust what your chart title says. You can also change the Title font, size, format, and color. It’s simple stuff, but always handy to know.
After you finish with Chart & axis titles, you’ll find the dropdown menu Series. This is where you can format individual data points, which can come in handy when you want to have different colors on your chart to illustrate a point. We’ll get to that shortly.
Next is Legend. This is where you can adjust the “explanation” of your data points and how to display them, including their position on the page.
Lastly, you’ll come to three sections:
Horizontal axis controls the way horizontal data points are displayed on your chart.
Vertical axis controls the way your vertical labels are displayed.
Gridlines control the way the lines in your chart are displayed.
Step 2: Delete a Column in a Google Slides Chart
Once you’re familiar with your Chart editor, you’ll need to know a few tips for customizing this chart.
We chose a default bar graph for our Google slideshow, but you might have noticed that each data point (i.e. Team 1) has two separate bars. What if you only need one bar per point?
To delete a bar, go to the data points in your Google spreadsheet above your chart. Right-click on the top of the column where it says “C,” to highlight the whole section that contains the data that you want to delete.
Click Delete column. This will automatically delete the entire column from your spreadsheet and update your previewed chart.
Step 3: Update a Linked Chart in Google Slides
As we’ve worked on this chart in a linked Google spreadsheet, it’s important to note that your Google Slides presentation is still open in another browser window.
If you go back to that window and you want to see what this updated chart will look like, go to the top right-hand corner of your chart and click Update. Google will read the new changes on the spreadsheet and update your chart accordingly.
Go back to your Google spreadsheet to continue working.
Step 4: Change Data Point Names and Values
Another step that is useful is knowing how to change the names and values of the data points in your chart.
To change the names, go to the table in your Google spreadsheet above your chart. Double-click on the individual cells and start typing. Press Enter/Return once you’re done inputting.
Step 5: Change the Color of Your Data Points
This simple bar graph has come a long way, but it’s still boring. One of the quickest and easiest ways that you can spruce it up is through color.
For this tutorial, we’ve decided to chart favorite colors based upon an individual number of responses, divided by categories. What if we changed each line on the bar graph to show the color itself?
You can switch this by going to Chart editor > Customize > Series, then clicking Add next to Format data point.
When you click on Add, a window will pop up that says Select data point. Use the dropdown menu to pick an individual data point to format, then click OK.
For this tutorial, we’ve chosen “Red” as our data point to update. Once you select your data point, go back to the Series dropdown menu and choose a new color from the color palette.
If you don’t like your data points having individual colors, just Delete each individual data point in the Series section. When you do, they will revert to their uniform color.
If you want to add more colors, just click Add again. Repeat the same process with another data point.
Step 6: Move Your Chart Legend
The last crucial step you’ll need to know is how to move your legend.
Regardless of how simple or complex your data is, you’ll want to make sure the data you’re presenting is clearly labeled and easy to understand. In this bar graph, for example, having our legend all the way off to the right doesn’t make much sense, especially with each bar a different color. It doesn’t tell us anything.
To move the legend around your graph, go to Chart editor > Customize > Legend.
Under the dropdown menu Position, choose where you want to place the legend on the page. Our own legend works best under the graph, so that’s where we’re putting it.
After you’re done with your chart customization, go back to your Google slideshow and update the view.
Design Tips for Creating an Amazing Chart or Graph
Now that you know how to create a chart in Google Sides—using Google Sheets as an additional tool—here are some tips to keep in mind when displaying your data. These tips can be applied to all the charts you create in Google Slides.
1. Make Sure You’re Using the Right Type of Chart
The type of data you’re displaying will affect the type of chart you use, as different charts serve different purposes:
- Bar charts are good for data that is sorted by groups.
- Line charts are good for data showing a trend over time.
- Pie charts are discouraged by statisticians. They’re hard to read and often distort data. If you do need to use one, keep in mind that they’re used to display parts of a singular data point.
2. Remember Your Audience
Are you designing a chart for the general public who may have a hard time deciphering complex data? Best to keep your chart simple and cut back on complicated visualizations so they make the connections quicker.
3. Make Things Easy to See
Design your data in a way that is intuitive and easy to grasp. Don’t put too much information on your chart so it becomes difficult to read, and cut out unnecessary visual elements like extraneous border decorations to make your data cleaner.
4. The Importance of Color
Use strong colors between your different data points so they stand out. Don’t use too many colors either, or it can become confusing. Avoid red and green color combinations, as they are not accessible to readers with color blindness.
5. Be Wary of Flashy Effects
Avoid 3D graphs or flashy effects. They’re usually difficult to read because the 3D shape can often distort the data you’re presenting.
Make Your Google Slides Chart Stand Out
Now that you know how to create a chart or graph in Google Slides—and have some tips on how to design one—you can now buckle down and create something great.
Looking for other useful things you can do with Google Slides? Here are some key Google Slides tips and tricks.