Tables of text and numbers are often made to be the enemy of good data visualization. However, tables can still be a valuable way to present data, as they allow for a level of detail and precision that can be difficult to achieve in a more graphical format. While visualizations can help you more easily see the big picture, tables allow you to more easily dive into the details.
When building reports in Google Data Studio, you can add a table just as easily as a bar chart or line chart. But did you know there are a myriad of ways to make your tables more visual, more interactive, and more informative?
Here are 12 tips for enhancing your tables in Data Studio:
Tip #1: Add a bar chart
Let’s start with an easy one. Adding bars into your table immediately makes it easier to compare the values of a metric. You can choose the “Table with bars” option from menu when adding a new table, or for any existing table you can manually change columns to “Bar” from the Style panel.
Tip #2: Add a heatmap
Heatmaps are another way to visually represent and compare metric values in your tables. When applied to a column of data, a heatmap can do well at highlighting the highest and lowest values. Choose the “Table with heatmap” option when creating a new table, or select the “Heatmap” type for a column using the Style panel.
Tip #3: Compare to prior period
Showing week-over-week, month-over-month, or year-over-year comparisons can be a struggle in some visualization tools. In Data Studio however, you can easily enable prior period comparison in your charts. You will find the comparison date range setting below the default date range in the Data panel for you table.
Tip #4: Calculate percent of total
The proportions in your data are often more meaningful than the absolute metric values. Adding a “percent of total” measure into your table can provide useful context. For step-by-step instructions on how to do this, read our post on Calculating Percent of Total in Data Studio.
Tip #5: Calculate a running total
When measuring against targets or thresholds, you may find it useful to see a year-to-date or month-to-date total. You can add a cumulative total to a table by applying a running calculation to a metric.
Tip #6: Add a summary row
Tables by nature will show you a breakdown of your selected field or combination of fields. However, sometimes you may also wish to see a grand total for the whole table. In Data Studio, enabling a summary row automatically adds totals for each column at the bottom of your table.
Tip #7: Show banded rows
Banded rows are a common technique for formatting tables. The alternate shading can aid readability, especially for wide or long tables. You can add banding to your tables by setting the odd and even row colours through the Style panel.
Tip #8: Add optional metrics
Data Studio has many features that you can use to make your reports interactive for your viewers. Adding optional metrics allows your stakeholders to select and view additional metrics than aren’t in the base charts. For instructions, read our post on Using Optional Metrics in Data Studio.
Tip #9: Enable drill down
Drill down is another interactive feature that you can enable for charts in Data Studio. When drill down is applied to a table, it can allow you to change the granularity of a dimension breakdown, for example from Country to State to City. Read our post on Using Drill-Down Charts in Data Studio for more instructions and examples.
Tip #10: Enable metric sliders
When your tables may contain hundreds or thousands of rows, interactive controls can be helpful for filtering and segmenting on the fly. Metric sliders are a specific type of filter control that you can add to charts in Data Studio. You can enable metric sliders for a table by switching on the toggle in the Metric section of the Data panel.
Tip #11: Add hyperlinks
Your tables don’t need to be limited to only static text. Adding hyperlinks allows you to click directly to the webpages, file downloads, videos, or other web-based resources that your data represents. Read our post on Embedding Links in Data Studio for instructions on how to add hyperlinks to your tables.
Tip #12: Add images
Did you know that tables can contain more than just text and numbers? You can also add images to provide context to your data. For example, adding product photos, video thumbnails, logos, or icons can enrich your reports and make it easier for readers to understand what they’re looking at. Read our post on Adding Images to Your Tables in Data Studio for step-by-step instructions.
There are of course many more tips that we could share about tables in Data Studio, but we’ll stop at 12 for now. Let us know if you find these useful!
Complete list of posts in our 2020 Data Studio series:
1. Visualizing the COVID-19 Pandemic in Google Data Studio
2. Creating a Google Analytics Dashboard in One Click
3. Using Google Maps in Data Studio
4. Visualizing BigQuery Public Datasets in Data Studio
5. Measuring Web Vitals – Part 2: Monitoring in Data Studio
6. Using Parameters in Data Studio
7. How to Style Links in Data Studio
8. Using Filter Controls in Data Studio
9. Extracting a Theme from an Image in Data Studio
10. Building a Google Analytics 4 Dashboard in Data Studio
11. How to Convert Text to Dates in Google Data Studio
12. 12 Tips for Enhancing Your Tables in Data Studio (this post)