Google Data Studio – Top Tips & Tricks for Beginners

Google Data Studio New Project

Learning how to use Google Data Studio could be a bit tricky sometimes. Even though I was not new to working with data using computers, learning to work with Google Data Studio was not so easy.

I used to work with data on Excel sheets and PowerPoint presentations before I decided to try Data Studio, and one would expect that this would make it easy to learn how to use it. But no, not so.

Whether you are new to working with data or not, you are likely to find it tricky learning how to use Data Studio. So, in this post, I am highlighting some things you should know if you are using it for the first time.

Hoping these few hints will guide you on and help you have a smooth learning experience!

It all starts with data

Every project in Google Data Studio starts with data. On creating a new report, you are prompted to ‘Add data to report‘ or ‘Add data‘.


Here it is important you connect data you have already prepared or that is readily available from a data source. A few data sources allowed by Data Studio include:

  • Google Analytics
  • Google Ads
  • Google Sheets
  • Big Query
  • CSV file upload
  • Campaign Manager 360
  • Google Surveys

So far, I have used Google Sheets as my data source when working with Data Studio. There are several other data sources you could decide to use if you like.

If you are using Google Sheets, always have your data dimensions on the first row of the column which will contain the metrics for that data dimension.

Drag and draw to create tables and graphs

You would also meet with a lot of drag and draw functionality when working with Data Studio. This is similar to the drag-and-drop functionality. So, if you are not a lover of drag and drops before now, you either have to take it or leave it.

Whether you are adding texts, shapes, tables, charts or controls to your reports, you should be ready to do a lot of drag and draws.

Create automated dashboards and reports

The only reason why you ever need to use Data Studio is that you need to analyze and visualize data, then maybe create reports using the visualized data.

Data Studio gives you the power to create automated dashboards using data you have fed into it from your data source. Some of the dashboards you can create include:

  • Tables
  • Scorecards
  • Time series
  • Bar charts
  • Pie charts
  • Geo charts
  • Google maps
  • Area charts
  • Scatter charts
  • Pivot tables

You have a lot of options at your disposal to flex your creativity.

All of these dashboards have some in-built controls that enable automation, but you have the freedom to add your own controls for every dashboard you create.

Examples of controls that you might already know are the fields or drop-downs on analytics dashboards that let you choose to only view data for a specific date range by inputting or selecting a date.

Build on dimensions, metrics & sorting

The key to creating automated dashboards on Google Data Studio lies in the use of the ‘dimension‘, ‘metric‘, and ‘sorting‘ feature in the data setting tab of a dashboard.

In order to use this correctly, you must be familiar with the data analytics concepts of dimension, metric, and sorting.

Dimension, in simple terms, refers to data values that are non-numerical and serve as attributes of numerical data values. Examples are labels used in describing the data values in the row or column of a table.

Metric refers to the numerical values of your data. If you have a hard time figuring this out, just remember that they are always expressed as numbers.

While sorting refers to the arrangement of data. The sorting setting on the dashboard you create will determine how the data connected to the dashboard will be arranged on the dashboard. For most of the dashboards you will be creating in Data Studio, you will either need to sort by ‘date’ or ‘record count’. Record count allows you to sort in the natural order that you have arranged your data in your data source.

So, I hope with these few hints I have shared you can get to a great start using Google Data Studio.

Feel free to share your Data Studio story with me or ask me for help with a Data Studio project.