Data Studio has a fantastic drag-and-drop report building interface.

Everything is done through a single sidebar, which is helpful in constraining the moving pieces on a given report.

Knowing your way around it can really speed up any modifications you'd like to make to QR report templates, or new report builds you'd like to make on your own.

Opening the Sidebar

Both the sidebar and the menu are only available in EDIT mode, which you can access through the EDIT blue button at the top-right of any report.

The sidebar is accessed by selecting any element in the dashboard (graph, scorecard, table, etc).

Settings Available from the Sidebar

Let's go through each element in order:

Chart Selector

Selectable from the top of the sidebar, this pops open a list of available widgets to use within your report.

Data Studio allows you to toggle directly between a table, pivot table, time series chart, etc with one click - you do not need to re-select your data source + columns each time you toggle between a chart type.

This allows you to play around with different chart options, without a bunch of tedious setup.

Data Source

Data Studio runs on the concept of "data sources" - each source maps to one BigQuery table in our case.

That's why, when we copy a report template, first we copy the data source that corresponds to the correct BigQuery table.

From the sidebar, select the "Edit" (pencil) option to the left of the data source name to crack open a list of that data source's fields.

From this view, you can do a few things:

  • Double-click the field name to rename it.

  • Use the hamburger menu to the right of the field name, to duplicate, delete or hide that field.

  • Modify each field's display type (from number to currency, for example).

  • Modify the field's default aggregation (sum, avg, max, min, etc) - most of the fields provided in Recipes will be sum by default.

You can also create a "calculated column" from this view, to perform your own math on the data source.

Date Range Dimension

This controls which field in your data source will map to the date filter on your report page (if one exists).

Only columns set to data type = DATE will appear on this dropdown menu.

Without a date range dimension set, a date filter on your page will not be applied to that chart.


This section is only available for graphs or tables. On graphs, it corresponds to the X-axis. On tables, it's the field(s) by which the metrics will aggregate.

Additionally, there is the “Breakdown” option which is allowed in bar charts: it splits bars for an additional dimension breakdown.

In the example below, you can see a graph of # keywords ranking per month, with a drill down by rank.

Tables similarly have a "Drilldown," which allows you to toggle up and down through levels of granularity.

Pivot tables have a similar function called "Expand-collapse," which in our opinion is the best of these breakdown options.


Select the numeric fields to display in your chart.

Scorecards have only an option to show one metric, but graphs or tables allow for numerous metrics.

To the left of the name of the metric, you can pick the aggregation method of each field, modify the name that appears in the dashboard and select the type of data, among other options.


Calculated fields are another type of metric that can be used. These are fields that are directly created within Data Studio using other existing fields. If you're curious, this Youtube tutorial walks through them in depth:

Default Date Range

Select the date range that will apply to this specific element of the dashboard.

There are two potential options:

  • Auto: Ties your chart to the main date range filter on your dashboard page. If no date filter is added, Data Studio will show all available data.

  • Custom: The element will work from its own assigned date range, rather than the report default. You can either give it a fixed date range or select from a wide variety of options:


The “Advanced” date range option allows you to configure a rolling date range, like Today - 90 days or Today - 365 days. Before this option, rolling date windows were not possible in Data Studio.

The other key element of this section is the Comparison Date Range - in our opinion this is Data Studio's best feature.

Among the options for comparison periods are:

  • Previous Period: compares it to the previous date range of the same length. Eg: If you are showing the last 30 days of data, the comparison will use the previous 30 days prior to that.

  • Previous Year: Compares it to the same date range period from last year. Eg: If you are showing data for May 2020, the comparison will be against May 2019.


In this section you can include filter your data, based on any combination of AND / OR + Include / Exclude conditions that you set.

Other Data Studio Resources

If you're looking to dive deeper, there are a few resources on CIFL, our sister site, that may be helpful:

If you're interested in our Data Studio course, just drop us a note on live chat - we're happy to offer free course enrollment for users.

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