About dimensions and metrics

Understand fields, the basic building blocks of your reports.

Fields contain the information that appears in your reports. There are 2 types of fields in a data source: dimensions and metrics. A dimension is a category of data, while a metric is a number that quantifies something in that category. When you add a data source to a report, its fields become available for use in charts and controls.

In this article:

Data primer

If you're new to data visualization and reporting, the following information may be useful.

How data is organized

A data set is organized into a tabular format of rows and columns. For example, the table below shows data from an online clothing store:

Row Item Name Color Quantity Sold
1 Hat Black 20
2 Hat White 25
3 Coat Red 35
4 Coat Blue 10
5 Scarf Purple 15

 

Each row in the table contains one record, or instance, of the data; in this case, items for sale in the store.

The columns in the table make up the fields: discrete chunks of information that describe or measure the rows. Item name, Color, and Quantity Sold are fields that describe the products in your online store.

In this example, the Quantity Sold fields shows the total number of each item and color combination sold, rather than showing each individual sale. This is known as aggregation. Aggregation simplifies and summarizes information, making it easier to derive meaning from large data sets.

Dimensions describe. Metrics measure.

Dimensions are data categories. Dimension values (the data contained by the dimension) are names, descriptions or other characteristics of a category. In the example above, Item Name and Color are both dimensions: they describe or categorize the products for sale.

Metrics measure the things contained in dimensions. In Data Studio, metrics values are always aggregated: given metric X, the value can be a sum (total of all values of X), a count (how many X?), a ratio (X/sum of X), etc. See below for more on aggregation.

Metrics are always numbers. Dimensions can be any other kind of data, including unaggregated numbers, dates, text, and boolean (true/false) values.

Dimensions and metrics in your data source

When you connect to your data in Data Studio, columns in the underlying data set become fields in your data source. Dimensions (unaggregated data) appear as green fields. Metrics (aggregated data) appear as blue fields.

Calculated fields appear with fx at the end. You can add calculated fields after the data source has been created. These can be either dimensions or metrics.

Configure data source fields

The image below shows the data source editor, and illustrates how fields in a data source are configured.

Example data source diagram.

Legend:

  1. Data source name (click to edit)
  2. Edit data source connection (available to data source editors only)
  3. Create calculated field button
  4. Fields (by row number):
  1. Calculated dimension
  2. Regular dimension
  3. Calculated metric
  4. Regular metric
  1. More menu (click to perform field-level actions)
  2. Type menu (determines what kind of data the holds)
  3. Aggregation menu (determines how the data is summarized)
  4. Description (for information only, has no effect in data sources or reports)

Name

Default field names come from your data set. Click a field name to edit it.

If the name is too long to display completely, hover over it until the full name appears.

Type

The Type property tells Data Studio what kind of data to expect when processing the field. A field's type determines how the data appears in your reports, which operations are allowed for it, and which are not. For example, you can't apply an arithmetic function to a Text field, or use a Number field as the date range dimension in a report.

The table below shows the supported field types, along with the kind of data expected as input, and examples of how that data might look in your reports.

Type Expected data Report examples
Number A floating point number. 1,234.56
Percent A floating point number representing a ratio. 61.73%
Duration An integer representing a time duration in seconds. This will be formatted into a standard time display in reports. 01:43:19
Currency A floating point number representing a monetary value. This will be formatted to include the appropriate currency symbol in reports. $1,234.56
Text Zero or more letters, numbers, characters, or symbols.

A1B2C3

Date & Time

An actual calendar date, or an abstract date index. This will be formatted according to the locale, and to the Show As display setting in reports.

Learn more about working with dates.

2018-01-01

Week 1

Boolean

A logical value.

If the data set doesn't provide boolean values, you can create a Boolean field using a calculated field with the CASE statement:

CASE WHEN ... THEN TRUE ELSE FALSE END

true

false

Geo

A value representing a geographic region, such as a country name, latitude and longitude, ISO code, or Google Ads criteria ID.

Learn more about visualizing geographic data.

United Kingdom

51.5074,-0.1278

1006886

URL

An address of a World Wide Web page.

https://datastudio.google.com/
Hyperlink A clickable link to a URL. Hyperlink fields are created by the HYPERLINK function. See an example of Hyperlink fields
Image An image. Image fields are created by the IMAGE function.  
Image Link A clickable image. Image Link fields are created by the HYPERLINK function. See an example of Image Link fields

To change the field type, use the Type drop-down menu in the data source edit page. If the field editing in reports option is enabled for the data source, you can also change field types directly in reports based on this data source.

Changing a metric to a non-numeric type, such as Text, will convert the metric into a dimension. This might have adverse affects on charts or formulae that expect the field to be a metric, so be careful doing this.

Aggregation

The Aggregation method determines how a field is summarized in charts. Data Studio supports the following aggregation methods:

Aggregation Method Description
Sum The field values are added together.
Average The field values are averaged.
Count Every value is counted.
Count Distinct Only unique values are counted.
Min The field displays the minimum value.
Max The field displays the maximum value.
Auto

The aggregation method is supplied by the underlying data set, or as the result of a calculated field. 

You can't change the Auto aggregation method.

None

No aggregation is applied. The field is treated as a dimension, even if it contains numeric data.

This method only appears in the data source. The default aggregation for metrics in reports is Sum.

Change the aggregation method

To change the field's aggregation method, use the Aggregation drop-down menu in the data source edit page. If the field editing in reports option is enabled for the data source, you can also change the aggregation method directly in reports based on this data source.The Field editing in reports option also lets you change the directly in reports based on this data source.

More about Auto aggregation

Metrics in your data source are set to Auto when the data has already been aggregated. This is the case when the data comes from a fixed-schema data source with pre-aggregated data, such as Google Analytics and Google Ads. Because these products already aggregate the data before it gets to Data Studio, you can't change the aggregation method in the report or data source.

You'll also see Auto applied to calculated fields that use an explicit aggregation function, such as SUM, AVERAGE, MAX, MIN, etc. As with pre-aggregated data sets, the calculated field formula dictates the aggregation method for the field. You can't change it via the menus.

Field actions

The "More" menu lets you perform additional actions on a field. To access this menu:

  1. Locate the field you want to act on
  2. To the right of the field, click More menu
  3. Select the action to perform:
Action Description
Count Create a new metric by applying the COUNT function to the selected dimension.
Count Distinct Create a new metric by applying the COUNT DISTINCT function to the selected dimension.
Duplicate Create a copy of the field.
Enable Allow report editors to use a previously disabled field.
Disable

Prevent report editors from using this field in reports.

Remove Delete a calculated field.
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