If there is anything we love about Google Sheets, it is the insane tools and resources available for building different charts. While there is an incredible array of built-in chart types you can explore on Google Sheets, our focus today is showing you how to make a scatter plot in Google sheets.
But before we get into all the details, let’s start with a quick introduction of what a scatter plot is.
Understanding scatter plot
A scatter plot or scatter chart as many people call it is one of the many amazing charting options provided by Google Sheets. And to keep things simple, you can use a scatter plot to represent two or more values in a data set. Assuming you have two or more values in your data set and you’re looking to find their correlation, using a scatter plot wouldn’t be such a bad idea.
If you have come across a scatter plot before, you’ll notice that the chart typically has dots scattered all over. To avoid any confusion, these dots represent values on the y-axis and x-axis.
Being a mathematical function, a scatter plot typically has the independent variable, which is plotted on the x-axis, and of course, the dependent variable, which is plotted on the y-axis.
With a scatter plot, you tend to observe the y value for difference, especially when the x variable changes. That said, keep in mind that both values can be independent too. And should that be the case, you might not find any real correlations.
To put things simply, here is what a scatter plot lets you do:
- A scatter plot allows you to visually represent your data.
- Looking at a scatter plot, you’ll be able to see the range of data you’re dealing with. This means you can see the minimum and maximum values.
- If you’re looking for a charting tool in Google Sheets that makes it easier to interpret data, you won’t be disappointed to use a scatter plot.
When dealing with a large set of data, you’ll agree that it is a herculean task to interpret their relationship with each other. Thankfully, with scatter plot, you have just the right tool that gets the job done.
While a scatter plot makes it easier to look at your data as a whole, you also have the option to create trend lines, which gives you an edge when trying to make sense of large sets of data.
Sure, it can be time consuming to look at raw data on a spreadsheet and try to make sense of the values, but guess what? With a scatter plot, you can now see things from a different perspective.
This tutorial will show you exactly how to create a scatter plot in Google Sheets. For our guide, we will use the following sample data to create a scatter plot in Google Sheets.
Making a scatter plot in Google Sheets
Creating a scatter plot in Google Sheets may be a little complicated, especially if you’re doing it for the first time. But with us guiding you every step of the way, you should be able to create one without much headache.
To make everything easy, our guide outlines all the steps you need to take to create a scatter plot in Google sheets. Let’s dive right in, shall we?
Step 1: Highlighting the data
When creating a scatter plot, the first thing you need to do is highlight the columns you want to compare. So we’ll go ahead and highlight the data in our spreadsheet.
Step 2: Go to Insert> Chart
With the data now highlighted, navigate to the Insert tab and select Charts. Alternatively, you can simply click on the “Chart” icon from the top submenu.
If you did exactly as we showed you, you’ll have a scatter plot that looks something like this:
That wasn’t so difficult, was it?
Even though our scatter plot already gives us a lot of valuable information, Google Sheets provides access to other amazing resources we can use to improve our analysis. So we will jump into that right away.
Adding a trendline to a scatter plot in Google Sheets
To enhance our analysis, we want to add a trend line to our scatter plot. And guess what? Doing this is a walk in the park. The exciting thing about adding a trend line to the scatter plot is that it demonstrates trends in our data.
But before we show you how you can add a trend line to a scatter plot in Google Sheets, let’s briefly look at why adding a trend line to your scatter plot is important.
To start, adding a trend line to your scatter plot serves three distinct purposes. Here, check them out.
- A trend line lets you know right away if there is any correlation between the values on the x-axis and the y-axis. If your data points are close to the trend line, it shows a strong correlation. On the flip side, if your data points are farther from the trend line, it means less correlation between the plotted data points.
- Having a trend line in your scatter chart allows you to gauge the trends in your dataset. If the trend line is pointing downwards, it demonstrates a negative trend. On the other hand, if the line goes upwards, it suggests a positive trend.
- With a trend line in your scatter plot, it’s super easy to identify the points out of the range. This is super useful for sorting through data, especially since you know which data values are unique in the set.
Having shown you why having a trend line is important in your scatter, let’s now show you how to add a trend line to your scatter plot.
Step 1: Open Chart Editor
After creating your scatter plot, you’ll typically find the Chart editor on the extreme right of your spreadsheet. If yours isn’t there, you can simply open the “Chart editor” by clicking on the three dots icon on the top right of your scatter chart and then choose “Edit chart” from the options available.
Step 2: Customize> Series > Trendline
On the Chart editor, click on the Customize tab. Here, you want to click on “Series and check the box next to “Trendline.” We know this sounds a little complicated, so here is a video demonstration showing you exactly how it’s done.
If you followed all the steps detailed above, your scatter chart should now have a trend line that looks like this:
Looking at the image above, you can clearly see that adding the trend line now clearly shows us the relationship between the X and Y coordinate values.
After adding the trend line, we are sure you’ll be asking what’s next. Well, we want to take things up a notch by showing you how to use error bars in a scatter plot. Read on as we will get into that in a bit.
How to use error bars in a scatter plot
Error bars are very useful resources to add to a scatter plot chat. The reason is that error bars show how reliable or on-trend a given data point is. Assuming you’re a prospective buyer looking to lease a shop space, error bars will help you avoid paying for overpriced space.
Now that you have some understanding of what error bars are and their use in a scatter plot, let’s show you how to add them to your scatter plot.
Step 1: Open Chart Editor
If the Chart editor isn’t already at the extreme right of your spreadsheet, you can open it by clicking the three dots icon located on the top right of your chart. After that, select “Edit chart.” This action will open the Chart editor.
Step 2: Customize > Series > Error Bar
On the Chart editor located on the extreme right of your spreadsheet, select the “Customize” tab option, click on the option for Series, navigate all the way down, and click on the check box next to the option for Error bars.
If this step sounds a bit confusing, you can watch the short video demonstration below showing you exactly how to execute this step.
After checking the box next to the Error bars, you should have a scatter plot that looks something like this:
Looking at the image above, you can clearly see that our scatter plot now features error bars for each data point. Keep in mind that the error bars demonstrate how close our data points are to the trend line.
Scatter plots and other charting options in Google Sheets
Even though Google Sheets has a lot of resources and tools you can deploy for creating charts, keep in mind that these tools have an edge over one another. A look at the chart above shows specific clusters after adding the error bars. If we were to use a bar or line chart, we won’t get these clusters.
More so, scatter plot has proven to be a reliable tool for charting, especially when you’re working with a large data set.
Overall, the most exciting thing about scatter plot is the fact that it makes it easy to analyze and draw inferences from the data you’re working with.
In a nutshell
Without mincing words, scatter plots have proven to be incredibly useful for analyzing the data in a spreadsheet.
However, it’s important you know that you can’t use scatter plots for just any type of data. As a rule of thumb, you are only required to use a scatter plot when you have both independent and dependent variables.
Also, any time you notice a flat trend line or huge error bars in your scatter plot, it is a tell-tale sign that the data you’re dealing with isn’t appropriate for a scatter chart.
In today’s guide, we gave you a brief overview of what a scatter chart is. We even took things further by showing you how to make a scatter plot in Google Sheets.
For a hassle-free analysis and comparison, we also showed you how to add a trend line to your scatter charts. And instead of just leaving things like that, we went the extra mile to show you how to add error bars to your scatter chart.
If this is your first time dealing with scatter plots in Google Sheets, we are sure you now have a complete understanding of what it is and how to make it in Google Sheets.
The most intriguing part is that today’s guide featured detailed screenshots and video guides showing you exactly how to make a scatter plot in Google Sheets. In case of any confusion, feel free to look at those resources.
We hope you have learned a thing or two from this Google Sheets tutorial. If you need more exciting Google Sheets tutorials, feel free to check out our blog as we have many exciting Google Sheets guides you will love.
Frequently asked questions
Do I need to add a trend line to my scatter plot?
If you’re looking to compare data and find trend relationships among your data set, then it’s important to add a trend line to your scatter chart. And in this guide, we showed you how to add a trend line to your scatter chart, so feel free to go over that if you need to add a trend line to your scatter chart.
When should you use a scatter plot?
While a scatter plot is a brilliant charting tool for making analyses, keep in mind that it isn’t recommended for all types of data. So now the million-dollar question is when should you use a scatter plot? Well, that’s pretty easy.
If you’re looking to visually represent your data, then using a scatter plot in Google Sheets wouldn’t be a bad idea.
Again, using a scatter chart is okay if you’re dealing with a large data set made up of both dependent and independent variables.
Also, if your goal is to find trend relationships, especially with a large data set, it’s okay to use a scatter plot.
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