How to Make a Timeline Chart in Google Sheets

How to Make a Timeline Chart in Google Sheets
How to Make a Timeline Chart in Google Sheets – Sheetaki

Making a timeline chart in Google Sheets is useful for illustrating the progress of data over time.

One of the best ways to present data chronologically is to use a timeline chart. It shows the movement or trend of a particular event within a time frame.

Timeline charts can be used in almost any field. In Statistics, timeline charts are commonly used to determine the population change in an area within a period of time. For business owners, timeline charts can be a good tracking tool of their monthly expenses. You might have also seen this type of chart being used by project teams to monitor their project development progress.

Fortunately, you can create a timeline chart for your own dataset in Google Sheets. The best part is that you don’t have to draw it yourself. Just specify your data and access some commands. Then, Google Sheets will create your timeline chart instantly.

Now, let’s learn how to make a timeline chart in Google Sheets!


A Real Example of a Timeline Chart in Google Sheets

Let’s say you’re keeping track of your monthly expenses in a spreadsheet.

Making a timeline chart in Google Sheets

The spreadsheet is quite easy to understand since it only has a few records. You can quickly pinpoint the month you spent the most and least. But if you want to visualize the trend of your expenses covering the first until the last month, a timeline chart is a good way to do so.

With a timeline chart in Google Sheets, you can transform your entire dataset into a visually appealing and comprehensive graphical form like this one:

 Example of a Timeline Chart in Google Sheets

At one glance in your timeline chart, you can immediately discover the sudden increase or decrease of your expenses within the period covered.

Do you see how easy that is? Now, let’s try to learn the step-by-step process of making a timeline chart in Google Sheets.



Formatting the Data for a Timeline Chart

Before creating a timeline chart, you need to format your dataset first. Here’s how you should structure your data:

  • First column – the first column should contain the dates of your data.
  • Second column – this column should contain your numeric data.
  • Third and fourth column (optional): you can also include two optional columns if you want to add notes about the title and event, respectively.

Once you are done formatting your dataset, you can already proceed to create its timeline chart. The steps will be discussed in the next section.



How to Make a Timeline Chart in Google Sheets

  1. To start with, open the spreadsheet which contains the formatted dataset you will use for the timeline chart. If you would like to practice first on an example dataset, click the link below to have a copy of our own spreadsheet.
  2. Upon opening the spreadsheet, highlight the cells that contain the data for your timeline chart. Cell A1:B7 is selected in the example below.Example of formatted data for making a timeline chart in Google Sheets
  3. Next, click the Insert menu to display additional controls.
    The Insert menu in Google Sheets
  4. From the list of controls, select Chart. Upon doing so, a default chart will be inserted into your spreadsheet. You’ll also notice that the Chart editor panel appears on your screen.
    Inserting a timeline chart in Google Sheets
  5. Finally, in the Chart Editor, set Chart type to Timeline chart. The selected type will be applied automatically to your recently added chart.
    Setting the chart type to timeline chart

That’s how you make a timeline chart in Google Sheets. But of course, it doesn’t just end there. You can also customize your timeline chart to enhance its appearance through the Chart editor.



Using the Chart Editor

Your timeline chart can be customized using the Chart editor.  Within this editor, you’ll find two sections, Setup and Customize. Each section has its own set of controls for modifying your timeline chart.

Setup Section

Use the controls under the Setup section to configure the data points of your timeline chart.

Setup Section

  1. Data range – The cell range used for your timeline chart appears in this field. You can directly modify this field if there’s a need to include additional cells.
  2. Switch rows/columns – Tick this checkbox if you want to switch the columns and rows of your timeline chart.
  3. Use row 1 as headers – If you want to set the first row of your data range as the headers of your timeline chart, tick this checkbox.
  4. Use column A as labels – You can also set your timeline chart to use the records on the first column as labels by ticking this checkbox.

Customize Section

If you need to modify your timeline chart’s appearance, just navigate to the Customize section of the Chart editor. Under this section, you’ll find the following controls:

Customize Section

  1. Fill Opacity – Set the fill opacity of your timeline using this field. 
  2. Line Thickness – Adjust your timeline chart’s line thickness through this field.
  3. Values suffix – You can append a suffix for the values of your timeline chart in this field.
  4. Date format – Use this field to change the date format of your timeline chart.
  5. Min – This field allows you to specify the minimum value displayed on your timeline chart.
  6. Max – For this field, you can indicate the maximum value you want to appear on the chart.
  7. Expand range to show zero – Marking this checkbox allows you to expand the range of your timeline.
  8. Show zoom buttons – Toggle this control to show or hide the zoom buttons of your timeline chart.
  9. Show date range selector Use this control to display or hide the date range selector.

That’s it when it comes to making a timeline chart in Google Sheets. Remember to use this type of chart if you want to illustrate the progress of data within a given period.

Learn more techniques on how to format your spreadsheets by checking out our other articles on Google Sheets.

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