6 effective ways to use Explore in Google Sheets


Explore works differently in Google Sheets than it does in Google Docs. You can use it to get useful details about your data to help you analyze it. You can also use parts provided by the tool in your spreadsheet.

If you’re looking for a handy way to learn more about the data in your Google Sheets, here are several 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 at the top of the sidebar. In addition, the suggested questions give you a good idea of ​​what you can ask yourself.

RELATED: How to use the MEDIAN function in Google Sheets

Here we have sales data per month for a handful of products. You can see that the Explore tool offers questions such as the top values ​​in a given column, the lowest value in a particular column, and the middle value in another column.

Suggested questions in the Explore sidebar

The suggested questions you see vary based on your data. By default, we see these questions for our cell range A1 through F13. But you can select a certain range of cells and see different suggestions.

Suggested questions for a range of cells

You can also ask your own questions, such as what is the correlation between two columns, the average of a column, or a corresponding column with the highest value. Type one in the Ask about this data box to see the results.

Ask a question

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 cell range to get more responses

By default, the Explore function reads data from your sheet based on columns. This is important to keep in mind for 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 questions work.

Edit cell range for Explore

Here, you’ll see that the suggestions correspond to our column headers in row 1, which are products.

Questions for headings in a row

If we change the tool to read the row headers in column A, you’ll see the options change to see the months instead.

Questions for headings in a column

By editing this section, you can see different suggested questions and ask your own questions based on where your headings reside.

2. View and use formulas

To accompany the suggested questions or the ones 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 drop it directly onto your sheet if you want to keep it.

RELATED: Google makes it easy to work with formulas in spreadsheets

Here, we ask for the average of Cases (column B). When you get the result, select “View formula”. You can then click on the formula to copy it to your clipboard and paste it wherever you like.

See the formula Explore

Alternatively, you can just drag the formula to a cell on your sheet.

Drag the Explore formula into a cell

3. Get quick calculations

Similar to the calculations you can see in the status bar at the bottom, you can see things like the sum, average, and median in the Explore sidebar.

RELATED: How to view basic calculations without formulas in Google Sheets

Select a range of cells and you’ll see these calculations displayed at the top of the sidebar above the questions section.

See Explore calculations

You can also drag one of the calculations to a cell on your sheet if you want to keep it.

Drag the SUM into a cell

4. View and insert charts

Another very useful feature of the Explore tool is the graphics it provides. When you see the sidebar, scroll down to the Analytics section. Depending on your data, you may see a few different types of charts.

explore charts

To view the chart in a larger size, select the Zoom button or to add the chart to your sheet, select the Insert Chart button.

View a suggested chart

Along with the charts in the Analytics section of the sidebar, you can see others when you ask a question. For example, you can request the correlation between two columns. Select “Chart” and you will see a useful chart that you can simply view or insert into your sheet.

View a graph from a question

5. Review short summaries

To accompany some of the charts that the Explore tool creates for you, you can view helpful summaries. These can be helpful little snippets that summarize what you see on the chart.

Explore chart summaries

6. Alternate Row Colors

One more useful feature you’ll see with Explore is the ability to color alternate rows on your sheet. This is just a handy place for this action instead of opening the menu.

RELATED: How to toggle row or column shading in Google Sheets

You will see the cell range below the option to confirm. Then choose one of the color schemes to apply the shading to.

Alternate row colors with Explore

Alternatively, select “Edit” to customize the colors of the alternate rows to your preference.

Customize the colors of the alternate rows

When you want to analyze your data in Google Sheets, consider the Explore feature for helpful insights, charts, and other tools.