Google Data Studio

Google Data Studio reference lines with parameter

Today, Google Data Studio team has released a new feature offering more interactivity for reference lines, available on scatter & trends charts (bar, line, area, combo…) : Parameters as a new option for reference line types.


Google Data Studio reference lines with parameter

Until now, only constant value or aggregated metric value (average, median, percentile, min and max) were available.

Our references are changing according to our concerns and the prism we wish to use for analysis purposes. But this particular year, our references are also continually changing because of external events with massive causalities on the business of our clients, so their data.


So in 2020, it makes sense even more to get parameter inside Data Studio to deal with moving references.


The use case & the result

In the example below, I choose to use the new feature – reference lines with parameter – to illustrate the follow-up of an ecommerce revenue for the achievement of a moving annual target.

Let’s say that for this particular year, the target has been changed 3 times:

  • Initially, as the result of business objectives for the year, and so the digital goals
  • After the COVID lockdown and as a “positive” consequence of the huge amount of online sales (“…so we can do better…”)
  • After the achievement of the target, for incoming black friday and Christmas picks of demand (“we did better…but the year is not finished…the more important months…insentive!”)

So, let’s see below a control to switch from a target to another and see the related reference line changing.

And because we take care of the visualisation, let’s include this parameter control inside the legend of our time series chart and get a clear chart with the less labels and the more trends highlights, thanks to emojis.


We can see when we had achieved each previous version of the revenue target…and the road ahead of us.



Ingredients to create this reporting with reference line controlled by parameter

To build this customized and interactive chart, we need the following components:

  • A parameter named “revenue target” as number type with permitted list of value corresponding to each target
  • A time series chart displaying the trend of revenue from your data source, on which we will turn on a reference line and configure our parameter
  • A drop-down list with our parameter as field, with a customized design, put over the chart legend
  • A line with the same reference line style of the chart, put over the legend too, at the left of the drop-down list

Let’s make a review of this configuration.



Voilà, this mechanism is not really complicated but could get a lot of benefits to cross interactively various and moving references with performance data streams. We can imagine, as example, combining optional metrics with references lines parameter 😉


Final word

I’m sure that other use cases in the future will prove that parameter on reference lines can help for report reading, data analysis and threshold definition. Mimoune Djouallah has already made an interesting report – with a slider and a bar chart – when he spotted and shared about this new feature on Twitter: His post. Thanks Mim 🙂


Fun is not a straight line…but…