A waterfall chart is a useful type of graph that shows how an initial value increases and/or decreases over time.
These kinds of charts are easy to make in Google Sheets because they are a built-in option.
In this tutorial, I will show you how to make a waterfall chart in Google Sheets.
Table of Contents
What is a Waterfall Chart?
A waterfall chart is a useful type of visualization that shows the cumulative effect of how an initial value changes when values are added or subtracted over time.
It essentially shows a running total that includes increases and decreases.
Here is an example of a basic waterfall chart:
The example chart above shows revenue for a company for each month.
The year starts out at a baseline of zero and each month is either positive or negative.
The blue in the chart represents a positive number so you will see the running total increase.
The red represents a negative number, so you see the running total decrease.
At the end of the chart is the subtotal that shows the ending amount after each of the progressive steps.
Making a Waterfall Chart
Creating a waterfall chart in Google Sheets is easy.
First, you need to have your data in your spreadsheet. Here is my example data that I will use to create the chart with:
Once you have your data entered into your sheet, you can begin to create the chart.
Here are the steps:
1. First, highlight all the data in your spreadsheet that you will use to create the chart with
2. Next, in the top menu select Insert>Chart
3. In the Chart editor on the right-hand side, navigate to the Chart type selection and select the drop-down to choose a chart type. Set the chart type to Waterfall chart which you will find in the “other” section
4. You should now have your Chart type set to Waterfall chart like below
5. You should now see your waterfall chart created in your sheet
How to Customize Your Waterfall Chart
After you have created your chart, you can begin to customize it by navigating to the Customize tab in the Chart Editor.
Here you will find the following sections:
- Chart style
- Chart & axis titles
- Horizontal axis
- Vertical axis
- Gridlines and ticks
Each of these sections has different options that you can select to change the appearance of your chart.
I will cover the customization options available in each of these sections next.
Under the Chart style section, you will find options for changing the background color, border color, and connector line color of your chart.
You can also change the font and connector line thickness and line type under these settings.
If you don’t want to show connector lines in your waterfall chart, uncheck the box in this section to remove these lines.
Chart & axis titles
The settings under Chart and axis titles are pretty self-explanatory.
Here you have options for changing the title of your chart, as well as adding subtitles and axis titles.
You can also change the font style, size, and color of these titles in this section.
To choose which type of title you are adding, select the drop-down menu and choose from the different titles you can add to your graph
Under the Series settings, you will find options for changing how the data in your graph is displayed.
You can change the name of each series, and the colors of the bars that are used in the waterfall chart.
There are some useful settings at the bottom of this section that you might want to add to your chart.
If you check the Data labels box, you can add data labels to your graph so that each bar is labeled with the actual data value.
You can also remove the subtotal by unchecking the “Add subtotal after last value in series” box.
The legend settings control how the legend is displayed.
You can change the position, font, and text color under this section.
The horizontal axis settings control how the horizontal axis appears.
You can change the font, font size, color, and even change the axis order under this option
Under the vertical axis, you have all the same options as the horizontal axis, but you can also set minimum and maximum values for the vertical axis labels.
If you want to set a scale for the vertical axis, you can also find that setting here to control the scale used on the vertical axis data label.
Gridlines and ticks
The last section controls how gridlines and ticks appear in your chart.
You change spacing, steps, ticks, and gridline colors under this setting.
Because a waterfall chart is a built-in option in Google Sheets, they are very easy to create as long as you have your data entered correctly in your spreadsheet.
There are also a ton of customization options that you have to control how your chart displays.
If you are new to creating this kind of chart, we recommend that you take your time learning what each of the customization options does so that you can learn to create your chart exactly how you want it displayed.