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A histogram chart, commonly known simply as a histogram, is often used to give a visual representation of data distribution. It groups the numeric data within specific intervals, displaying how many individual values fall in each interval. Each of these intervals is shown in terms of ‘buckets’ or ‘bins.’
The histogram may look like a column chart because of the use of bins. However, these two charts are different in terms of their applications. The histogram shows continuous data and is used to understand the distribution of a data set. In contrast, column charts are used to compare categorical data.
In this tutorial, we will learn how to use Google Sheets to make a histogram for our data.
How to format data for a histogram
There are two ways to format the data when creating a histogram, either a column list or a row list. However, it is often better to use a column list with a header for good data visualization.
Consider this hypothetical example of the waiting time of 20 customers. Each data point represents the time that a customer waited for a customer service representative.
Following the recommended format above, we simply put all the data into 1 column:
How to add a histogram
Step 1. Select the table of values.
Step 2. Go to Insert, then click Chart.
Another option is to click the chart icon at the end of the main toolbar.
Step 3. Google sheets will automatically create a chart based on your data. If the chart is not yet a histogram, go to the Chart Editor, which pops out at the right side of your Google Sheet. Select Setup. Under chart type, click the drop-down menu, then scroll down and look for the histogram located under the subsection Other.
If you accidentally closed the Chart editor, you can still open it by selecting the chart on your sheet. Click on the vertical ellipsis icon located at the upper right of your chart. Select Edit chart.
Step 4. You now have a histogram with a recommended title, some axis headings, and ranges.
If you hover your cursor to any bins on your histogram, you will see the interval and its corresponding count.
Note: The interval for the first bucket is 10.00 - 19.00 seconds and for the second bucket is 19.00-28.00 seconds. If your data consists of 19, the count for that value of 19 will be added to the first bin.
How to customize the histogram
Most of the time, the histogram created by Google Sheets is enough. You can also customize some of the details of your histogram, such as intervals, titles and headings, and bucket color, for better presentation.
Changing the size of the intervals
To change the size of the intervals, go to the Customize tab of the Chart Editor. Select the Histogram, then under bucket size, choose your desired interval.
Changing the chart and axis titles and their formats
By default, there is no vertical axis title. The column heading you have in your data will be the horizontal axis title, and adding the phrase “Histogram of” before your column heading will be the chart title.
You can add and change the chart and axis titles by going to the Customize tab of the Chart Editor. Under the Chart and axis titles tab, choose which title you would like to edit using the Title Type selector drop-down menu. You can also modify the corresponding font size, font style, format, and color of the titles.
Changing the bucket color
If you wish to change the color of the buckets, go to the Series section of the Customize Tab under Chart Selector. You can also do this by double-clicking on one bucket on your chart.
Sample Sheet for Histogram
You can try creating your own histogram using this sample sheet.