TECHNOLOGY

6 Smart Upgrades to Google Sheets Can Make Your Data More Compelling

Machine learning and new visualizations are now baked into Google’s spreadsheet application.

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BY Christina DesMarais - 06 Jan 2018

6 Smart Upgrades to Google Sheets Can Make Your Data More Compelling

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

If analyzing or presenting data is something you do for work, you should know that over the last year Google Sheets has been upgraded with new features including machine learning and data visualization capabilities. Here are several upgrades--according to Google--that are now available to its 3.5 million G Suite users.

Explore

This function helps you decipher data easily by asking with words, not formulas, questions about your data. An answer will automatically populate when you use Explore to ask questions of data like "how many units did we sell in the month of November?" or "what were our Black Friday sales?" Explore in Sheets is available on the web, Android and iOS.

Waterfall Charts

They help you visualize sequential changes in data, such as the incremental breakdown of profits month-by-month. To add a waterfall chart, select Insert > Chart > Chart type picker and then choose "waterfall."

Visualize Data Without a Formula

This feature uses machine learning to let you visualize data in a chart without a formula. If you need a specific type of chart, instead of manually building it use the Explore feature and type "histogram of summer sales" and it will automatically create a chart.

Formula Suggestions

When you enter "=" in a cell, basic spreadsheet formulas like =SUM and =AVERAGE are automatically suggested.

Pivot Tables

You can ask your data a question in everyday language, such as "what is the sum of revenue by salesperson?" or "how much revenue does each product category generate?" and the right pivot table will be returned as a result. To help create pivot tables, Sheets will suggest relevant tables in the pivot table editor to help you summarize your data faster and offers customizable headings for rows and columns.

Name Versions of a Sheet

Now you can name a version of a spreadsheet to indicate its current state. For example, you may label it as "Version 2.0," "Version sent to client," "Version w/ accepted edits," use the date, your name or mark it as final. It helps teams clearly communicate where a spreadsheet currently stands. This feature is now "Version History," formerly called "Revision History," and can be accessed by selecting "File > Version History > Name current version." G Suite customers may also benefit from the ability to view only named versions, to quickly jump through labeled versions.