A First Look at the Google Data Studio

By Zekeriya Mulbay
Table of contents

In this tutorial, we will have a first look at the main report building elements.


On the top of the page is a toolbar, and on the right upper corner is a share button and a “View” button. By default, you are in “Edit” mode.

  • Add a page: You can add several pages to each report.
  • Undo and Redo: Also possible with the keyboard shortcuts Ctrl+Z (undo) and Ctrl+Y (redo).
  • Selection Mode: This pointer icon allows you to select a chart or other elements in your canvas. When you select an element, a configuration tab will open on the right side.
  • Add data: In order to add new data sources.
  • Add a chart: In order to add charts.
  • Community visualization and components: You can add data sources from 3rd part creators. They are usually paid.
  • Add a control: This dropdown allows you to add a control, such as a dropdown list, slider, checkbox, date range, and more.
  • URL Embed: It allows you to embed videos and other documents directly in your report.
  • Image: It inserts an image from your computer or by URL.
  • Text: It inserts a text box.
  • Line: It allows you to draw simple or complex lines with arrows and curves.
  • Shape: It allows you to insert basic shapes, such as rectangles and circles.
  • Theme and layout: In order to edit the look and feel of your report.


This is where you'll be inserting charts, tables, images, and other design elements. This is the main "report"


When you have nothing selected in the main grid, it lets you edit the theme and layout of the page. When you’ve selected a chart, the right bar is where you’ll play with the data, including adding dimensions and metrics

Editor in Detail

When non of the elements/charts are selected, you will see this version with 2 tabs.

Theme Tab

Data Studio offers a number of predefined themes for your report. You can create a professional look quickly by selecting an existing theme.

Layout Tab

You can do things such as control how your report looks in View mode, customize your report size and orientation, and change grid settings. We recommend experimenting with each option to see what works best for you.

When any element/chart is selected, then this sidebar becomes the editor for that specific chart. Again we will have 2 tabs.


This tab will let you choose dimensions and metrics, filter them or sort them.


The style tab will let you edit and change the style of chosen chart. Each chart has unique options.

The way your report appears on the viewer's screen can be controlled from the options in the Layout tab of the Theme and Layout panel.

💡 The Theme and Layout panel appears when no report components are selected.

You can display this panel at any time by clicking Theme and Layout in the toolbar. Many of the options described here are also found in the View menu.

View Mode

Header visibility

The header visibility options control the behaviour of the report header in view mode. The header contains things like the report title, the share button, and the edit button.

  • Always show—the report header is always visible.
  • Auto-hide—the report header appears briefly, then is hidden. Hover your mouse over the header area to redisplay it.
  • Initially hidden—the report header is hidden until you hover your mouse over the header area.

The navigation position options control how the pagination controls appear in your report.

Left displays the report page navigation in a collapsible panel on the left.

Top displays the report page navigation above the report.

Display mode

The display mode options govern how your report fits in the browser window.

  • Fit to width scales the components in the report in proportion to the width of the window.
  • The actual size displays the report components at the same size they were created.
  • Has margin shown or hides the margin area surrounding the report. Hiding the margin makes the report appear to occupy the entire window.

Canvas Size

The canvas size options let you select from a number of preset sizes or enter custom display dimensions. Preset sizes include:

  • US Letter (4:3) - Portrait
  • US Letter (4:3) - Landscape
  • Screen (16:9) - Portrait
  • Screen (16:9) - Landscape

You might change width and height to use a custom canvas as well.

Snap to

The snap to options governs how components you place on the report are positioned.

Smart guides display coloured lines to help you align, resize, and space the selected components. How does it work;

  • Align components: while moving a component, a red line appears to show when it is aligned with other components on the canvas.
  • Resize components: while resizing a component, blue lines appear to show when that component is the same length or width as other components on the canvas, and the current size in pixels is also shown.
  • Space components: while moving one or more components, blue lines appear when those components are spaced equally with other components on the canvas.

Grid aligns the selected components to the visible grid on the report canvas.

Grid Settings

The minimum canvas grid size is 10 px. You can adjust this with the Grid Settings options. Increasing the grid size makes it easier to layout your charts, controls, and other components.

  • Size sets the height and width of the grid squares.
  • The padding adds space within the grid squares. Use this to separate components in adjacent squares.
  • Horizontal offset sets left and right margins on the edges of your report. Use a positive number for the left offset. Use a negative number for the right offset.
  • Vertical offset sets top and bottom margins on the edges of your report. Use a positive number for top offset. Use a negative number for the bottom offset. Use this to provide space for headers and footers.

Changing grid settings has no effect on components already on the page. It only applies to new components you add, or to components that you move.

When you place a new component on the canvas that can fit into one or more grid squares, the component "snaps" in position and fills the grid, making it easy to size and line up new components in rows and columns. ("Fill the square" behaviour begins with a grid size of 15 px or greater.)

Report level component position

This option determines how report-level components interact with other components on the page.

Top positions report-level components in front of all other components (similar to using the Arrange > Order > Bring to front menu).

Bottom positions report-level components behind all other components (similar to using the Arrange > Order > Send to back menu).

Spread the word

Keep reading