Welcome to Part 1 of our favorite Data Studio tips!
Google's Data Studio is a great tool for visualization and reporting, but it has its own learning curve. Below are 3 beginner tips that will make your life in Data Studio a lot easier.
Learn how to manage data sources
Data sources are the foundation on which Data Studio can unfold its magic. Without an understanding of how these sources work, you cannot adapt them to your needs. Building a basic understanding of this functionality is critical.
First, you need to see which data sources are currently connected to your Data Studio report. To do this, navigate to the Resource section at the top of any page. Then click "Manage added data sources" to see a list of connected data sources. You can also add or remove a data source if you wish. If you remove a data source, make sure that it is not used in your report. Otherwise the report will be corrupted.
When you click Edit, all of the fields that make up this data source are displayed. You can also add a custom field if necessary. These are the fields that are available to you when you create charts or tables in your report. Using this user interface to review the fields available to you is a good troubleshooting trick if you are having trouble creating what you need to create a chart.
An important thing to consider here is the "Update Fields" option. This allows you to manually update the connection to the data source. Updating can be important when making changes to the underlying data because Data Studio does not update the connection in real time. If you create dimensions and custom variables directly in the data source, not in Data Studio, this is critical because you can force an update and apply the changes in Data Studio.
These basic data source management tips can help you troubleshoot how your data is connected and fed into Data Studio. For more information, visit this Google support page: Manage added reports and data sources.
Resizing the page is a simple but useful trick
When you start to fill your report with tables and graphs, you will often run out of space with the standard page size. You can then either add another page or remove tables and graphics. You may not have enough to warrant an extra page, but what you have is important to the report. Here, resizing the page becomes your friend.
How can you resize a page in a Data Studio report?
On each page, you must click the Page option in the top navigation and then click Current Page Settings in the drop-down menu. A menu opens to the right of the report and you want to click Style.
Here you see an option for "canvas size" with pre-made options and a custom option.
The custom option allows you to manually adjust the width and height of your report based on the pixels. It is often best to adjust the height and limit the width to the usual monitor sizes. Ideally, you want to keep your report as compact as possible based on the content you fill it with.
Filters are a cornerstone when it comes to matching your reports and tables with relevant data. They give you a lot of control over what data is available and accessible to the users of the report. This can reduce the likelihood of errors in sorting and interpreting data.
For our purposes, we focus on two aspects: filter levels and filter inheritance. These are important concepts to learn before you create your first filter.
The first thing you need to understand is that filters work on three levels: report, page and chart. Filters can be created that affect every level. A report-wide filter therefore applies a filter to the entire report, including all pages and charts. Page-level filters affect the page on which they are set, including all charts. Individual chart filters only affect the chart to which the filter is applied.
This is important because it is the basis for filter inheritance. Filter inheritance means that certain filters can overwrite other filters in a hierarchy. It looks like this:
Report level> Page level> Chart level
So if you create a chart filter but a report filter removes access to certain data, the chart filter also inherits that filter. This can be a powerful tool to restrict your access to data. However, it can also get you in trouble if you don't know how it works.
For example, it's easy to set up different filters at multiple levels and not understand why you can't see certain data. You may have limited the time frame at the report level and can now get the right data on a chart. Or you restricted a page to a specific geographic location, but you'd like to see data from another location. These are just a few examples of where filters can get you in trouble. It is very important to keep an eye on your filters!
If you'd like to dive deeper into filters, see the Data Studio Filter support page.