Editing and formatting your chart

Any user who can edit your spreadsheet will be able to edit, add, and delete charts within that spreadsheet.

Quick Edit mode

Many chart types allow you to make formatting changes by clicking directly into the chart itself. Clicking anywhere in a line, area, bar, column, pie or candlestick chart, for example, will activate Quick Edit mode. You can then hover and click into specific areas of your chart that you’d like to modify:

  1. Click the chart title to change its font style, size, and color.
  2. Click the horizontal or vertical axis labels to change their font style, size, and color.
  3. Click within the chart itself to resize your chart, move it within the chart area, or adjust the number of gridlines it shows.
  4. Click the legend to change its font style and size, modify the colors used for each data series, or select another position for the legend in the chart area.
  5. Click each data series within the chart to change its color, select a different line thickness or dot size, and modify which axis it belongs to.

When you use Quick Edit, two buttons will appear in the top-left corner of your chart: View mode and Quick Edit mode. When you click into a chart, you'll initially find yourself in Quick Edit mode. When you're done making changes, click View mode.

Open Advanced Edit mode by clicking the arrow in the top-right corner of your chart to make further changes.

Quick Edit is not available for all chart types. Charts that don’t allow Quick Edit will not show the two buttons in the top-left corner, and can be edited only by opening Advanced Edit mode.

Advanced Edit mode

To make certain changes to your chart, you'll need to use Advanced Edit mode. To access it, click the arrow in the top-right corner of your chart. You'll then see these tabs:

  • The Start tab allows you to select new data from your spreadsheet.
  • The Chart tab allows you to change your chart type.
  • The Customize tab allows you to make more detailed formatting changes.
    • Combine ranges horizontally/vertically if you’re creating a chart from multiple data ranges.
    • Set minimum and maximum axis values. If you’re setting a minimum or maximum that cuts off part of your data set, check the box next to “Allow bounds to hide data.”
    • Customize your entire chart in the following ways:
      • Smooth eliminates angles in a line chart.
      • Reverse flips the order of your data points.
      • Log scale sets a logarithmic scale to your data.
      • Plot null values includes data points with no given value.
      • Maximize eliminates whitespace and zooms into your chart.
      • Compare mode adds tooltips that show the values of all series at a given point in your chart.
    • The Customize tab also gives you access to most formatting changes available through Quick Edit. The following options are available in most chart types:
      • Title text, size, and color
      • Legend text, size, and color
      • Location of the legend at the top, bottom, right, or nowhere in your chart
      • Font used for text in your chart
      • Background color for your chart
    • Charts with axes have the following customization options:
      • Axis labels and their text, size, and color
      • Grid color
      • Adding a second Y-axis
    • You can also customize each data series separately. Scroll to the last section in the Customize tab to change the color, line thickness, or point size for your data series.
Depending on what type of chart you're working with, some of these customization options may not be applicable, and so they may not appear as options in the Customize tab.

Add a second Y-axis to a chart

Certain chart types allow you to add a second Y-axis in order to represent your data on two different scales at the same time. This is particularly useful for combo charts, which show two data series. Using the second Y-axis option, you can scale each series separately, making your chart clear and easy to read. 

To add a second Y-axis to your chart, go to the Customize tab in the Chart Editor and scroll down to the Series section. From the drop-down menu, select the name of the series you’d like to scale to the right. Then, select Right axis from the drop-down menu next to Axis.

You can also add a second Y-axis directly in the chart if you are in quick edit mode, which is accessed by clicking the pencil icon in the top left corner of the chart. For charts that allow a second Y-axis, you can right click on a bar or line in the chart (based on the chart type) and select the right axis icon to add the extra axis.

See examples

Let’s say that you work in a restaurant and want to chart the amount of fruit consumed and the cost of each type of fruit that your kitchen orders.

Y-Axis Data Set

Charting this information on a combo chart with a single Y-axis doesn’t work well, because the average cost is a much smaller value than the average number sold. In addition, you are representing two different units (number and dollar value) on your Y-axis, which makes it difficult to label the axis properly.

Single Y-Axis Chart

With the second Y-axis option, however, you can graph the data so that it scales the volume fruit consumed on the left and its cost on the right.

Double Y-Axis Chart

Matt is a Docs & Drive expert and author of this help page. Leave him feedback below about the page.

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