November 29, 2020
Teaching With Graphs – How to Make a Graph on Google Docs

Teaching With Graphs – How to Make a Graph on Google Docs

Although the duo of Docs and Sheets are free online tools, they offer excellent functionality, too. And similar to Microsoft Excel, you can create graphs and charts on Google Sheets. But how do you create charts in Google Docs? Does the free tool have that functionality?

Not only can you create charts on Google Docs, but it is also easy to do so. In this article, we take a look at how to make a graph on Google Docs without breaking a sweat.

Creating a Chart on Google Docs

There’s a conventional way to do creating graphs in Google Docs. It involves making data entries in Google Sheet, creating the chart, and then inserting it into your document in Google Docs. You can link the graph to the source data in Sheets so that changes to the data will be updated in Docs automatically.

However, the procedure is a little bit complex and might not be suitable for every user. Thankfully, you can achieve the same result using a shorter method. This method is particularly useful if you are not too familiar with combining Docs and Sheets. Your job is to choose the type of chart you want and allow Google Docs to do the linking and updating.

If you want to learn how to make a graph on Google Docs, as opposed to Google Sheets, it makes a lot of sense to start with a simpler technique.

So let’s get into it.

  1. First, open a new document in Google Docs. You don’t have to insert a table, but it is important to have your data handy. As you are aware, it is not possible to create graphs or charts without data, whether in Sheets or Docs.
  2. Next, click Insert > Chart.
  3. A list of charts is displayed, including Bar, Column, Line, and Pie. There’s also a fifth option that says From Sheets. For this quick and easy method, select one chart type from the first four options.
inserting chart into google docs
  1. Google Docs inserts a graph template from Sheets into your opened document. However, this chart is practically meaningless to you since it doesn’t contain any of your data. To make it meaningful, you should add your data, and we’ll get to do that in the next step.
graph chart in google docs
  1. The chart is already linked to a source where the data is stored. Do the following to edit the data:
    • Click on the chart to enable editing options
    • Click on the chevron icon (inverted V) at the top right corner of the chart
    • Click the Open Source option

This will open Google Sheets and allow you to edit or add your data.

open source editing in google docs
  1. Next, add your data to the spreadsheet. You can drag the graph or chart out of the way, especially if you need to enter values into cells where the chart currently occupies.
google docs chart
  1. Edit the rows and columns as you want. The chart below shows an edited version of the chart above.
google docs graph
  1. Notice that even though some of the new changes are reflected on the chart, the new “Chemistry” column does not show on the legend. To make new rows and columns reflect on the chart, do this:
    • Double-click the chart to bring up the Chart Editor panel
    • Click the Add Series option under the Setup tab
chart editor
  • A small window pops up, prompting you to select a data range
graph data range
  • Select or highlight the column to be added as new series, and then click Ok. In the case of our example, we will highlight the “Chemistry” column. The chart will reflect all the data
graph new series
  1. When you toggle back to Google Docs, the chart remains almost the same with no changes except for the Update button on the top right corner of the chart. Click on the button to update the chart.

Each time you make changes to the Google Sheets, remember to click the Update button on Google Docs to reflect the changes. You can safely close Sheets and continue working in Docs. Your chart information is safe even if you do not make a copy of the chart before closing Sheets.

Note: Do no unlink the chart in Google Docs. If you unlink the chart, changes made in Sheets will not reflect in Docs.

Modifying Your Chart

Now that you’ve learned how to make a graph on Google Docs, it is time to learn some useful ways to modify the graph or chart.

To modify your chart means accessing the Chart Editor, where you can change the chart’s various properties. To access the Chart Editor:

  • Click the chart in Google Docs
  • Click the chevron icon
  • Click the Open Source option and wait for Google Sheets to open the linked spreadsheet
  • Once the spreadsheet opens, double-click on the chart to access the Chart Editor

You can choose a different chart type from the Setup tab. Click on the small pull-down arrow for a list of all available chart types that match your data. As an example, the chart below is a 3D pie chart using the same data as the column chart earlier.

pie chart google docs

Click on the Customize tab of the Chart Editor to modify different properties, including chart style, chart title, legend, gridlines, and other formatting options.

chart editor

There are lots of editing options packed into the Chart Editor, too numerous to list here. However, the options are user-friendly, so there is no steep learning curve. And as you make your selections or modifications, the results are updated on the chart instantly.

Play around with the options (that’s the best way to learn this stuff, anyway) until you achieve the modification you want. Then head back to Google Docs and click on the Update button to reflect the new changes.

Keep in mind that this entire process on how to make a graph on Google Docs is a shortcut. As you get more familiar with Google Sheets, you can learn more advanced features in the app to create charts from scratch and embed them in Google Docs.