The Explore feature works differently in Google Sheets than in Google Docs. You can use it to get useful details about your data to help you analyze it. You can also use pieces that the tool provides in your spreadsheet.
If you’re looking for a handy way to learn more about the data in your Google Sheet, here are various ways to use the Explore feature.
1. Ask Questions About Your Data
When you first open the Explore tool in Google Sheets, you’ll see suggestions and have the option to ask your own questions right at the top of the sidebar. Plus, the suggested questions give you a good idea of those you can ask yourself.
Here we have sales data by month for a handful of products. You can see the Explore tool offers questions like the top values in a certain column, the lowest value in a particular column, and the median value of another column.
The suggested questions you see vary depending on the data. By default, we see these questions for our cell range A1 through F13. But you can select a certain cell range and see different suggestions.
You can also ask questions of your own like what’s the correlation between two columns, the average of a column, or a corresponding column with the highest value. Type one into the Ask About This Data box to see the results.
With each question you select or ask, a card is created in the sidebar. You can see each card by scrolling down. This gives you a nice history of questions and answers to reuse or review.
Tip: Adjust the Cell Range for More Answers
By default, the Explore feature reads the data in your sheet based on columns. This is important to note for the questions because it affects what you can ask. But you can change this.
At the top of the sidebar, you’ll see the current cell range. Select “Edit” to change the range or choose whether your columns or rows contain headers. This determines how the questions work.
Here, you see the suggestions correspond to our column headers in row 1 which are products.
If we change the tool to read row headers in column A, you’ll see the options change to look at the months instead.
By editing this section, you can see different suggested questions and ask your own questions based on where your headers reside.
2. View and Use Formulas
To go along with the suggested questions or those you ask yourself, you can see the formula that Explore uses to get the answer. Not only can you see the formula, but you can also place it directly in your sheet if it’s one you want to hang onto.
Here, we ask for the average of Cases (column B). When you get the result, select “See Formula.” You can then click the formula to copy it to your clipboard and paste it where you like.
Alternatively, you can simply drag the formula to a cell in your sheet.
3. Get Quick Calculations
Similar to the calculations you can view in the status bar at the bottom, you can see things like sum, average, and median in the Explore sidebar.
Select a range of cells and you’ll see these calculations display at the top of the sidebar above the question section.
You can also drag one of the calculations into a cell on your sheet if you want to keep it.
4. See and Insert Charts
Another super helpful feature of the Explore tool is the charts it provides. When you view the sidebar, scroll to the Analysis section. Depending on your data, you may see a few different types of charts.
To see the chart in a larger size, select the Zoom button or to add the chart to your sheet, select the Insert Chart button.
Along with the charts in the Analysis section of the sidebar, you may see others when you ask a question. For example, you may ask for the correlation between two columns. Select “Chart” and you’ll see a handy graph that you can simply view or insert in your sheet.
5. Review Brief Summaries
To accompany some of the charts the Explore tool creates for you, you may see helpful summaries. These can be useful little snippets that wrap up what you see in the chart.
6. Alternate Row Colors
One more useful feature you’ll see with Explore is the ability to color alternating rows in your sheet. This is simply a handy spot for this action rather than opening the menu.
You’ll see the cell range below the option to confirm. Then, pick one of the color schemes to apply the shading.
Alternatively, select “Edit” to customize the alternating row colors per your preference.
When you want to analyze your data in Google Sheets, keep the Explore feature in mind for its useful information, charts, and other tools.