Creating Jitter Plots in Google Data Studio

Jitter plots (or strip plots) are a method for better visualizing the distribution of a set of data. When plotting a large number of data points, overlapping marks can often be a problem. By introducing a small amount of random noise into the data, a jitter plot slightly disperses the data points to make the overall distribution easier to analyze.

Google Data Studio can easily display a scatterplot, but there isn’t a built-in way to add random noise into a data set. At the moment, Data Studio doesn’t have a “RANDOM” function available for use in calculated fields. However, that just means you have to generate the randomness in your dataset before connecting to Data Studio.

If your data is in a spreadsheet, the “RAND” function in Google Sheets is all you need to power your jitter plot. Simply add a column with =RAND() to generate a random number between 0 and 1.

Once you have a “random” factor as a metric in Data Studio, you can add it to your x-axis metric in order to create the desired effect.

Here’s an example created for Makeover Monday. It shows the results of a survey that asked men and women across 20 countries about their preferences in a romantic partner. By jittering the points, it is easier to see clusters in the data that would otherwise be obscured by overlapping points.

Makeover Monday 2018 Week 2

Click to view interactive viz

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2 Comments

  1. Hi there,

    Thanks for sharing! I’d love to recreate what you did; but I’m having trouble with replicating the jitter effect. Is there any way you can send me screenshots of what you had for your dimensions, Metric X, and Y?

    1. Hi Gabe,

      Thanks for leaving a comment. In my dataset, I have Rank and Random as two metrics. Rank is a number 1 through 6. Random is a random number between -0.5 and 0.5. In Data Studio, I created a calculated metric for Rank+Random, which I named Jitter.

      My charts have Jitter on the x-axis and Percentage on the y-axis. You will see the values when you mouseover the points in the interactive viz.

      Let me know if that works out for you.

      Marc

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