blog post

Best tips for Google Data Studio

Johan Chemin
October 13, 2022

Tips list for Looker Studio

Looker Studio (formerly Google Data Studio) can be a complex tool, but with all those tips, you might become an expert soon !

Here is a quick list sort by theme :

Data Source (All useful tips for a Google Data Studio data source) :

  1. Rename his data source.
  2. Get a reusable data source.
  3. Check every report where your source is used.
  4. Use an extract data source on Google Data Studio.
  5. Configure metric for the whole report.

Component (help on component usage) :

  1. Export the data of a unique table.
  2. Combine data quickly
  3. Get a clickable link in Data Studio
  4. Get an image from a URL in Data Studio
  5. Set up a component for every page.
  6. Filter thanks to your table in the report.

Report (tips to configure your report) :

  1. Apply a filter on a whole report, a whole page.
  2. Activate manual publication of the report.
  3. Check on the history, restore a previous version.
  4. Follow your reporting consultation on Google Analytics.
  5. Automatically send your report.
  6. Prevent users to copy or download your report.
  7. Define a default data source for the page, the report.
  8. Modify parameters in the URL report.

Style (everything related to the style of a component) :

  1. Display the trends in a chart.
  2. Preselect the type of advanced filter.
  3. Display the variation for only one column in a table.
  4. Get the absolute variation instead of %
  5. Resize your table easily.
  6. Modify the padding for a card.
  7. Copy only the style of a component.

Other :

  1. Get a thumbnail of your report.
  2. Check on your report and data source for your enterprise.
  3. You can extend the fields panel list.
  4. Issue Tracker

Data Source Tips :

Rename a data source

Renaming a data source is essential when you need to work with Google Data Studio. It’s the only way to find and re-use a data source. You can rename a data source in 2 different ways :

Rename your data source from a report in Google Data Studio
Rename your data source from a report

When you are in a report :

Step by step :

  • Edit the data source (click on the pen the left of the data source name, or go to menu ResourceManage Added Data Source then the Edit button).
  • The Facebook Ads name is editable on this page !

If your data source is reusable, you can find it on the data source list, where you can also rename it :

Rename your data source from the data source list in Google Data Studiod
Rename your data source from the data source list.

Step by step :

  • From the Google Data Studio homepage click on “Data Sources”.
  • In the list, select the data source you want to rename and click on the 3 dots at the end of the line then Rename.

Make a data source reusable

when you create a report, the first thing you have to do is to create a data source. This data source will be embedded in the report, and you won’t be able to use it elsewhere.

You can transform this data source to make it reusable :

Make a data source reusable in Google Data Studio
Make a data source reusable.

Step by step :

  • From your report, click on menu Resource → Manage added data sources.
  • The column Type gives you the data source’s status. If the status is Embedded, you will see a button Make reusable at the end of the row. Click on it.
  • The status has changed and you can go to the data source list on the homepage, your data source will be here.

Check all report where a data source is used

Once a data source is reusable, you can share it and every user can add it to a new report.

There is a way to check every report it is used and remove it :

Check where your data source is used in Google Data Studio
Check where your data source is used.

Step by step :

  • Go to the data source list in the homepage, choose your data source and click on the 3 dots.
  • Select Manage Added Reports. Here is the list of all the reports where the data source is used.
  • You can remove the data source from a report by clicking on the Remove icon.

Used an extract data source

An extract data source can be a great way to speed your report. Thanks to this, you create a database in Google Data Studio, that will be refreshed at the rate you decide.

Here is how to do it :

Create an extracted data source in Google Data Studio.
Create an extracted data source.

Step by step :

  • For the first step, you need to create a normal data source that will be used in the extracted data source.
  • Then from the Google Data Studio homepage create a new data source.
  • On the connector list, search Extract and pick the Extract data connector from Google.
  • Indicate your normal data source that will be used to fetch the data.
  • Select the metrics and dimensions you wish to use.
  • Set up the refresh rate if you wish and save.

The first extract will be done when you saved the data source.

Set up a field for every report

Every metric and dimensions can be set up, for example to indicate a currency, a percent… in the data source. Once done every time you will use that field, it will be with the set-up :

Set up a field in Google Data Studio
Set up a field for every report.

Step by step :

  • Go to the field list of the data source (either from the data source list or from a report).
  • Here, the column Type shows how the fields will be displayed. You can modify it.

And here is the complete list of type fir fields :

• Numeric

  • Number
  • Percent
  • Duration (sec.)

• Text

• Date and time

  • Date
  • Date & Time
  • Year
  • Year Quarter
  • Year Month
  • ISO Year Week
  • Date Hour
  • Date Hour Minute
  • Quarter
  • Month
  • ISO Week
  • Month Day
  • Day of week
  • Day of month
  • Hour
  • Minute

• Boolean

• Geo

  • Continent
  • Subcontinent
  • Country
  • Designated market area
  • City
  • Postcode
  • Address
  • Latitude, Longitude

• Currency

• URL

  • URL
  • Image

I advise taking the time when you first create a data source to type all the fields you will always use. This is a great time savior tips because you can indicate the type of the component in a report. But this will only be applied to this component and you will have to do it again the next time you recreate it.

Component Tips :

Export data from a unique table

You can choose to export only the data from a table. Every filter used in the current page will be applied to the data : 

Export data from a table in Google Data Studio
Export data from a table.

Step by step : 

  • Open a report in view mode.
  • Apply the filter you want (these can be dynamic filter, date range filter, static filter).
  • Hover your mouse over the table, clicks on the 3 dots in the top right corner, then click Export.

Combine data quickly : 

When you want to combine data, you can create blended data sources that will allow you to combine any metrics you want. But this can be hard to configure. There is a simple way to combine 2 metrics quickly : 

Combine data on Google Data Studio
Combine data easily.

Step by step : 

  • Place 2 metrics in cards, select both with CTRL + clicks or (CMD + clicks).
  • Right clicks on the selection and clicks on Blend Data.

A new card appears with the combination of the 2 you selected. The first one you selected will be the numerator, the second one, the denominator.

A new blended data source is created containing only the 2 metrics you used.

Get a clickable link in a report

You can make every link clickable by giving it the type URL -> URL : 

Make a clickable link in Google Data Studio
Make a clickable link.

Step by step : 

  • Create a table with a URL in dimensions.
  • Edit the URL dimensions and give it the type URL then URL
  • You can now click on the link (in edition or view mode). For this table, you may want to deactivate the Cross-Filtering parameter in order to click on the link without filtering your report.

Get an image from a URL in Data Studio

Any URL of images can be displayed as an image in a table : 

Display an image from a URL
Display an image from a URL

Step by step : 

  • Create a table with a URL in dimensions.
  • Edit the URL dimensions and give it the type URL then Image

Set up a component for every page

You can place a component in a page, and add it to all the other pages, at the same place in 2 clicks. This can be great to keep a design between multiple pages. Place a header, a control field and duplicate them for all the pages : 

Component on report level.

Step by step : 

  • Select one or more components.
  • Right clicks on it then Make report level.

The image, fields, control… you place at report levels will be available for every page. If you move it on one page, it will move on every page.

Dynamic Filter in Table

You can activate the cross-filtering options on components. It will allow you to click on data to filter the entire page. For example, you can select a row in a table, and the page will filter by it : 

Cross-filtering in Google Data Studio
Cross-filtering filter.

Step by step : 

  • Select one component.
  • On the configuration panel Setup scroll at the bottom.
  • Activate the Cross-filtering checkbox.

Use this when you wants to allow your viewer to filter a page using tables.

Report Tips :

Apply filter on the entire page

Once a filter is created in the Resource -> Manage Filter menu, you can apply it to each component. But you can also choose to add it to a page and it will be applied to every component you add on the page : 

Apply a filter on the entire page on Google Data Studio
Apply a filter on the entire page.

Step by step : 

  • Open the Page menu and click on Current Page settings.
  • In the right panel, search for the section Filter and click to Add a filter.
  • Select the filter to apply.

It will automatically be applied to every component, old, or added to the page.

A filter can also be applied to a report level. To do so, check on the menu File -> Report settings.

Activate manual publication

If your report may be consulted while you modify it, you may want to activate the Manual publication settings. It creates a draft version of your report, only visible in edition mode and you can choose when to publish it so viewers can see it : 

Activate manual publication of modification
Activate manual publication of modification.

Step by step : 

  • Go to menu File -> Publishing settings
  • Activate the checkbox in the pop-up, then Save
  • Make a change in your report, you can now see that you are in a draft and the Publish button appears next to the View and Share button.

Check on the history, restore a previous version

You can consult and restore the previous version of your report. You can even work on a version and decide not to publish it now and get back on it later.

Consult version history
Consult version history.

Step by step : 

  • Go to menu File -> Version history -> See version history
  • On the right panel, you can choose a previous version and restore it thanks to the Restore this version.
  • You can rename a version and use it to version your report.

This can only restore a version of your report. Any change made in the data source won’t be restored.

Follow your reporting consultation on Google Analytics

Each report can be tagged with a Google Analytics measurement Ids (G-XXXXXXXXXX or UA-XXXXXXXX-Y). You can then follow your report consulting a view in Google Analytics : 

Add a Google Analytics Ids to your Google Data Studio report
Add a Google Analytics Ids to your report.

Step by step : 

  • Go to menu File -> Report Settings
  • In the section Google Analytics measurement Ids enter a Google Analytics Ids.
  • If you need to enter more than one, separate them with a comma.

For this need, I advise creating a new view of Google Analytics so you can check on your report in one place with no other information.

Automatically send your report

Received an email with your report and a download PDF version when you want. You can choose the frequency and day you report will be sent. And you can share it with every Google or Gmail account in a few clicks : 

Automatically receive your report by email
Automatically receive your report by email.

Step by step : 

  • From a report, in view or edition mode (you need the edition right), click on the small arrow on the left of the Share button.
  • Choose Schedule email delivery.
  • Add additional recipients if necessary, customize the email subject and message.
  • Select when the report starts sending and configure the frequency.

If you have special need, for example to send your report every 2nd Tuesday of the month, check on the Custom option of the frequency.

Prevent users to copy or download your report

If you do not want viewers to download data from components or copy your report, you can prevent that in the share settings :

Prevent user to extract data and copy your report
Prevent user to extract data and copy your report

Step by step :

  • Click on Share at the top right of the page.
  • Go to the Manage Access section.
  • Check the 2 checkbox Prevent editors from changing access and adding new people and Disable downloading, printing and copying for viewers.
  • Click on Save.

The saving configuration might not appear, just close the share pop-up and open it again.

Define a default data source for a page

You can assign a data source for every component in a page. Already created components with no data source will take the default configuration, newly created will also take the default configuration : 

Define a default data source for a page in Google Data Studio
Define a default data source for a page

Step by step : 

  • Click on the Page menu then Current Page Settings.
  • In the Data Source section, define a default data source.

Style Tips :

Display trends in a chart

Displaying trends for a metric can give you great insight over time. Is it good ? Is it growing ? You can do that in Google Data Studio with the charts type Time series : 

Trends in charts Google Data Studio
Trends in charts

Step by step : 

  • Create a chart type Time Series with a metric.
  • Go to the Style section and find the Trend line section. In the drop-down selector, choose Linear.

You can change the color of the line thanks to the button above : 

Change color of the trends line.

Preselect the search type of advanced filter

In order to filter your report, you may use the advanced filter. It allows you to filter dimensions using search types such as Equals, Contains, Start With… By default this search box will display Equals, but the most use is Contains. You can change this default configuration :  

Preselect search type for advanced filter
Preselect search type for advanced filter.

Step by step : 

  • Place an Advanced Filter from the Add a control menu.
  • Go to Style in the configuration panel.
  • Search for the Search Type section and click on Contains in the drop-down.

Display variation for selected columns

Tables can display variation compared to the previous period. By default, the variation is displayed for all columns, but you can choose which one will display it and which one won’t : 

Variation from previous period in Google Data Studio
Variation from previous period.

Step by step : 

  • Select a table and activate the variation in the Comparison date range section (open date selector and click on the top right corner to select Previous period).
  • Go to Style, then scroll down to the Metrics section and uncheck the Show Compare on the column you don’t want a comparison.

Display absolute variation instead of percent

By default, the variation is displayed in percent. But you can also get the absolute change : 

Absolute change in variation from previous period
Absolute change in variation from previous period

Step by step : 

  • Select a table and activate the variation in the Comparison date range section (open date selector and click on the top right corner to select Previous period).
  • Go to Style, then scroll down to the Metrics section and check the Show Absolute Change for the column you want.

Resize your table easily

Tables can be frustrating, you always try to resize the column for the best readability. Add a comparison to the previous period and you just double the number of columns and nothing is readable anymore. You can easily resize on 2 clicks : 

Resize table in Google Data Studio
Resize table easily.

Step by step : 

  • Right clicks on a table;
  • Search for Resize columns.
  • Choose Fit to data to adapt the column to the data.
  • Choose Distribute evenly to get the same size columns.

Modify the padding for a card

Sometimes data exceeds the size of a card. You can always choose to resize the card or lower the font size, but this modifies the style of your report. A simple trick to gain a few pixels and get data into cards are to change the padding from the left side of the card : 

Modify the padding of a card
Modify the padding of a card.

Step by step : 

  • Select a card and go to Style in the configuration panel.
  • Scroll down to the Padding  section.
  • In the Left selector, reduce the number of pixels.

Copy the style of a component

Modifying the style of a component can be tedious, doing it for all components can be painful… But you can re-use most of the style with a simple copy paste : 

Copy and paste style of component
Copy and paste style of component

Step by step : 

  • Right click on a component you want to use the style.
  • Right click on an unstyled component and click on Paste Special -> Paste Style Only

You can select multiple components to paste style only ! Hold Ctrl or Cmd and click to select multiple components, then right click and Paste Style Only

Others Tips :

Get a thumbnail of your report

Google Data Studio made a simple way to generate a thumbnail of your report. You can use this on social media, presentations, quick view…

Get a thumbnail of your report

Use this URL and you always get a thumbnail up to date with your report !

Extends the fields panel list

Metrics names can be very long, and often, exceed the width of the panel, making it unreadable. With a recent update, Google Data Studio allow you to extend this panel for comfortable viewing :

Extends the fields panel list

Need new features on Google Data Studio ?

Google created an issue tracker where you can report bugs and ask for evolution or new features for all their tools. Each demand get upvote by the community depending on their needs.

Here is the link for the Google Data Studio issue tracker : https://issuetracker.google.com/savedsearches/5492224?pli=1

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