How to Create a Graph in a Google Doc

Google Docs and Google Sheets have proved to be a great alternative to Microsoft’s Word and Excel apps. Although they’re free to use, there are many features that are missing compared to Microsoft’s tools.

Regardless, most users find both of these Google apps functional enough to take care of their daily tasks. One such task is adding charts and graphs to your text documents. Unfortunately, you can’t create graphs directly in Google Docs, but rather you’ll have to use Google Sheets for that.

Why Use Google Sheets to Insert the Graph

Although graphs may appear to be static, they’re actually quite dynamic. You only have to input the data and tell the app which to use to generate the graph.

As said, this is the territory of Google Sheets. Just enter your data in a spreadsheet, select the data, and insert a graph.

How to Create a Graph in Google Docs on a PC, Mac, or Chromebook

Creating a Graph or Chart

Adding graphs and charts to your Google Docs is pretty simple on your computer. The steps involve opening your Google Doc and a Google Sheets document then combining them.

Open your Google Doc and click ‘File’

Open the Google Docs file that you want to add a graph to. Click the “File” tab on the top menu.

Open a Spreadsheet

Click “New” in the upper left-hand corner. Click “Spreadsheet” and wait for a new Google Sheets file to open.

Input Data

A new page will appear in Google Sheets. Now fill the cells with data that you’d like to convert to a graph.

Highlight and click ‘Insert’

Select the cells containing your data. Click the “Insert” tab on the top menu.

Click “Chart.”

Now the chart should automatically appear in your spreadsheet.

Copy your chart

You can also use your keyboard commands to copy the data. macOS users can input CMD+C, Windows users can use CTRL + C.

You can also head back to your Google Doc, click ‘Insert,’ then click on ‘Chart.’ The bottom of the menu has a ‘From Sheets’ option. Tap that and your most recent Graph will appear (just be sure to give it a name in Google Sheets so it’s easily identifiable).

Paste your graph (optional)

Return to the Google Docs file and right-click where you want to place the graph. Use your keyboard shortcuts to paste your chart into your Google doc. macOS should use CMD+V while Windows users can click CTRL+V.

Paste options

Now a “Paste chart” menu appears. Here you have two options. You can either keep the link to the spreadsheet or paste the graph without linking it to the data. If you think you might have to change the data points on the graph, you want to keep the link.

You’ll be able to use the graph to reopen the spreadsheet that contains the data and play with it. You can add, remove, or simply change some of the figures and have everything automatically updated on your graph.

When you’re done, click “Paste” and the graph will appear in your Google Docs file.

Modifying the Chart Type

To modify the chart type for a graph that you’ve previously placed in Google Doc, you have to open the graph in Google Sheets first. Start by opening the Google Doc containing the graph that you want to modify.

Highlight your graph

Click on the graph so that it becomes highlighted.

Click the link icon

Click “Open-source.”

Open the editor

Wait for the Google Sheets file to open, then click the graph that you want to modify. You can double-click the chart or click the three vertical lines in the upper right-hand corner of the chart to open the editor.

Click the “Setup” tab.

Click the “Chart type” drop-down menu located just under the ‘Setup’ tab. Choose the chart type that suits your data the best.

Click ‘Update’ in Google Docs

As long as you’ve opted to link the chart with your Google Doc you will see an ‘Update’ tab. Click that and your chart will update with the edits you’ve made.

How to Make a Line Graph

By default, Google Sheets will select the most appropriate chart type for your data. If you want to change it to a line graph, follow steps 1 to 10 from above. Next, scroll down to the “Line” section of the drop-down menu and choose the most suitable line chart. Besides the standard “Line chart,” you can also use the “Smooth line chart” to smooth out the line, rather than connecting each data point.

How to Make a Bar Graph

Like the previous two sections, repeat the same steps to get to the “Chart type” drop-down menu. Now scroll down to the “Bar” section and choose one of the three available options: “Bar chart,” “Stacked bar chart,” “100% stacked bar chart.”

A bar chart is similar to a column chart but with the time and amount axis reversed. The time figures are now on the x-axis and the amounts the y-axis. A stacked bar chart combines all categories into one bar, with each category represented by its own color.

Similar to the stacked bar chart, the 100% stacked bar chart also combines categories into one bar, save that the graph now shows each category’s share in the total.

Editing the Legend

To alter the graph’s legend, first, follow steps 1 to 8 under “Modifying the Chart Type.” Once you open the “Chart editor” menu, click the “Customize” tab and scroll down to the “Legend” section. When you click its drop-down menu, you’ll see a couple of options.

“Position” lets you place the legend above, below, left, right, or even inside the graph. You can also choose to remove the legend by selecting “None.” Next, you can choose the font type, size, and color and also to bold and/or italicize the description.

How to Create a Graph in Google Docs on an iPhone or Android

Creating a Graph or Chart

Adding a chart to your Google Docs file on a smartphone is slightly different than doing it on your computer. Although you can use the Google Sheets mobile app to create a chart, you can’t add it to your document with the Google Docs app. Instead, you have to open your Google Docs file in a browser and then add the chart that you’ve previously created in Google Sheets.

Before you begin, make sure to first install both apps on your smartphone. For Android users, visit the Google Play store: Google Docs, Google Sheets. For iPhone and iPad users, visit Apple’s App Store: Google Docs, Google Sheets.

The first step is to create a chart that you want to include in your Google Docs file.

  1. Open the Google Sheets app.
  2. Add the chart data to your spreadsheet.
  3. Select all the cells that contain the chart data.
  4. Tap the “plus” icon in the app’s top menu.
  5. Tap “Chart.”
  6. The app automatically creates a chart for you. If you wish, you can change the available parameters. When you’re done, tap the checkmark icon in the top left corner to save your chart.

Now it’s time to import that chart to your Google Docs file.

  1. Create a document using the Google Docs mobile app.
  2. When you’re ready, open your preferred browser and go to google.com.
  3. You should be on the Google Docs main page. Since it loads in the mobile view by default, there will be a couple of options missing. That’s why you want to open it in desktop view.
  4. Tap the browser’s menu button and look for the option “Desktop site,” “Show desktop version,” or similar. Check the box next to it and the page will automatically reload in the full desktop version. Note that if your browser doesn’t have the desktop view option, you can always use Google Chrome to complete this action. It’s available for both Android and iOS.
  5. Tap anywhere on your document where you’d like to insert your chart.
  6. Tap the “Insert” tab from the top menu.
  7. Tap “Chart.”
  8. Tap “From Sheets.”
  9. A pop-up window will appear and list all your Google Sheets files that contain charts. Tap the one containing the chart you want to insert.
  10. Tap the “Select” button in the lower-left corner of the pop-up.
  11. Now tap the chart that you want to insert. If your spreadsheet contains more than one chart, you’ll see all the charts contained.
  12. Tap the “Import” button in the lower-right corner of the pop-up.
  13. Finally, the chart appears in your Google Docs file.

Modifying the Chart Type

  1. To modify the chart type, you also have to use the Google Sheets app.
  2. Open the Google Sheets app on our smartphone.
  3. You’ll see a list of your spreadsheets. Tap the appropriate spreadsheet.
  4. When the spreadsheet opens, find the chart that you want to modify and tap it.
  5. Tap the chart once more for the options menu.
  6. Tap the “Edit chart” option. Tap “Type.” Tap the desire chart type.

When you’re done, tap the checkmark in the top-left corner of the screen.

The updated version of the chart will appear in your spreadsheet.

Now you can open your Google Docs file to inspect the updated chart.

How to Make a Line Graph

Just follow steps 1 to 6 of the previous section. When you get to the list of available charts, choose one of the three available line charts. When you’re done, tap the checkmark in the top-left corner of the screen and that’s it.

How to Make a Bar Graph

This process is the same as the previous two examples, except that you’d choose the preferred bar graph.

Editing the Legend

The Google Sheets mobile app allows you only to change the position of the legend relative to the graph. To do so, follow steps 1 to 5 under “Modifying the Chart Type” and tap “Legend” on the menu. Now choose one of the options and tap the checkmark in the top-left corner of the screen.

Additional FAQ

Do I have to use Google Sheets in order to create a graph in Google Docs

Yes, the only way to enter the data for your graph is through Google Sheets. Although you can create a graph directly in Google Docs, the graph data will be generic. As such, to edit the data, you’ll have to open the graph’s source, which is a Google Sheets file.

Can I change the default chart type?

Unfortunately, it’s not possible to change the default chart type since there isn’t one. Google Sheets automatically determine which chart type to apply based on the applicable data.

When do I use each chart type?

A line chart is good for observing the flow of your data over a stretch of time. It’s also great for comparing different values, understanding the distribution of your data, and identifying data trends.

Column charts have almost the same use as line charts. The only difference is that columns clearly show the size of each data point.

Bar graphs are identical to column charts, only that they show the data horizontally. This layout is more convenient when the labels contain a lot of text. Another great use for bar graphs is to show negative values, as the graph doesn’t take up a lot of vertical space on the page.

Pie charts find uses in showing the composition of the individual parts of a whole, especially in percentages. For example, if you want to display the share of each browser type used by your website visitors.

Enjoying Your Graphs

Now that you know how to add dynamic graphs to your Google Docs files, you can customize their type, layout, and visual appearance. Not all that different from Excel, Google’s tool once again proves it’s a viable option for most users.

Have you managed to add a graph to your Google Doc? Which graph type do you use the most? Please share your experiences in the comments section below.

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