Using Optional Metrics in Data Studio

  • Optional Metrics

Using Optional Metrics in Data Studio

Space comes at a premium when designing a dashboard. The more you try to fit on a screen at once, the less effective your dashboard becomes at communicating key information. With a tool like Google Data Studio however, interactivity allows you to focus your dashboard on what’s most important, yet still allow your audience to further explore the data on their own.

Interactive filter controls can let your viewers compare different segments, like device types, channels, or countries. Date range selectors can allow for changing the report time period. And drill down can enable viewing charts at different levels of granularity.

In this post, we’ll cover one more way to build interactivity into your Data Studio reports: Optional metrics!

If you use Google Analytics, you are likely already familiar with the concept of optional metrics. Many standard charts in GA have a dropdown menu that allows you to change the metric displayed on the chart. In the same way, Data Studio allows you to provide additional “optional” metrics for your viewers to selectively display on your charts.

Let’s see how to enable optional metrics in Data Studio in a few simple steps:

How to Enable Optional Metrics in Data Studio

1. Select a chart

Add a chart or use an existing chart in your report. The optional metrics feature is currently available in all charts, except for scatter plots and pivot tables.

2. Turn on optional metrics

In the Data panel of the chart, there is an “Optional metrics” toggle below the list of selected metrics. Click the toggle to enable optional metrics for the chart.

3. Add optional metrics

Once you’ve enabled optional metrics, you will be able to add another set of metrics to the chart.

You can have a maximum of ten optional metrics per chart, however the number you can select depends on the chart type and number of required metrics already present in the chart.

Note that optional metrics will not be shown in the chart by default, but will be available in a dropdown menu. So, you should keep any key measures selected as required metrics. Optional metrics would be best used for metrics that are not critical, but “nice to have” for further exploration.

4. Using optional metrics as a viewer

In view mode, the optional metrics selector is available in the chart header. Click the optional metrics icon to open the selection menu. When using optional metrics, you may wish to set your chart headers to “Always Show” to make it more obvious to the viewer.

Depending on the chart type and configuration, the optional metrics menu will show as a list of either checkboxes or radio buttons.

When the chart configuration allows for multiple metrics, you can use the checkboxes to add and remove metrics from the chart. Otherwise, the radio buttons will let you switch from one metric to another. To return to the default chart setup, click the back arrow at the left of the chart header.

Here’s a sample dashboard demonstrating the use of optional metrics with different chart types:

Let us know how you use optional metrics in your Data Studio dashboards and reports!

Complete list of posts in our 2019 Data Studio series:
1. 5 More Calculated Fields for Data Studio
2. Using Drill-Down Charts in Data Studio
3. How to Schedule Email Delivery of Reports in Data Studio
4. 4 Scatterplot Hacks for Google Data Studio
5. How to Add Clickable Images in Data Studio
6. Calculating Ratios with Filtered Metrics in Data Studio
7. Using Optional Metrics in Data Studio
8. Using Conditional Formatting in Data Studio
9. Creating Ecommerce Funnels in Data Studio
10. How to Create a Slope Chart in Data Studio
11. Creating Radar Charts in Data Studio
12. Creating Stepped Line Charts in Data Studio

By |2019-12-17T11:14:44-05:00December 10th, 2019|8 Comments
Categories: Data Studio


  1. Dante 2020-07-20 at 07:24 - Reply

    Hi Cassy,
    can we have more than 10 metrics optional per chart ? please tell me how to do it. thanks

  2. kelly 2021-03-02 at 15:28 - Reply

    when using optional metrics in a line/bar graph, once i add the optional metrics the labels say that they are charting on the right y axis (where i would like them to be for this graph) but they chart on the graph like the numbers are defaulting to the left y axis which throws off the chart. we were able to fix it by swapping the side for the main metrics. however, the labels still make it seem like it is charting those metrics on the right y axis which might be confusing. is there a way to fix that?

    • Nicole Harris 2021-03-09 at 13:45 - Reply

      Hi Kelly! If I understand correctly, you want to make it clear which axis your optional metrics are charting to. In this case, we would suggest turning on the “Show Axis Title” option for both Y axes in the Style pane. Let us know if this solves your issue!

  3. Sam 2021-08-06 at 04:13 - Reply

    Hi, I was reading your article about optional metrics: I can see for some graphs you’ve got some optional metrics as check boxes and others and radio buttons. How do I toggle radio buttons on instead of check boxes, and vice versa?

    “Depending on the chart type and configuration, the optional metrics menu will show as a list of either checkboxes or radio buttons.” How do I know which ones allow radio buttons?

    • Malka Peiris 2021-08-09 at 10:14 - Reply

      Hi Sam! thank you for your question.

      You will need to select a breakdown dimension. Once this is selected, the optional metrics menu will show up as a list of radio buttons. In order to switch back to the list of checkboxes, you will need to you will need to ensure that there aren’t any breakdown dimensions selected.

      We hope this helps. Let us know if you have any further questions!

  4. Sam 2021-08-09 at 18:42 - Reply

    This is super helpful, thanks so much Malka!

    I’m currently building a graph to show users over time (months). I want to have radio buttons to toggle to new users over time. Then another to toggle to bounce rate.

    What would be an appropriate breakdown dimension?

    • Hayley Yacynuk 2021-08-11 at 17:34 - Reply

      Hi Sam, No problem and thank you for asking this question!

      Since I don’t have access to your data source, I would not be able to identify an appropriate breakdown dimension for you.

      However, since you’re looking at new users over time and bounce rate, maybe your breakdown dimension can be something like device category, location, browser etc.

      It is also possible for you to use the dimension you already have as your breakdown dimension if you can’t find another appropriate one.

      I hope this helps! I’m happy to have a consultant connect with you directly if you have more questions, you can reach us directly here

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