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Feb 22, 2024
Looker Studio

Enhancing Data Representation in Looker Studio

A Guide to Custom Value Formatting. By Fassil S. Yehuala

When it comes to data visualization, how information is presented can have a significant impact on comprehension and decision-making. Stated differently, viewers' comprehension and clarity of the information they are provided with can be significantly improved by tailoring the way data appears in reports.

With the capacity to perfectly meet visualization needs, Google's Custom value formatting feature—which was recently introduced—emerges as a useful tool. It allows users to customize date and time and numeric fields within reports. I'll provide a detailed process for successfully implementing it in Looker Studio in this article.

Why Custom Value Formatting Matters

Clarity and context are just as important as appearances when it comes to custom value formatting. Why it matters is as follows:

1. Improved Clarity: Dates and numerical numbers can be precisely formatted in charts and tooltips to make sure that readers can easily understand the information.

2. Tailored Representation: Changing the data type won't always provide the desired presentation of the data. This void is perfectly filled by custom formatting.

3. Contextual Insights: By adding language or using particular formatting styles, viewers can be given more context, which will improve their comprehension of the data that is being presented.

How to Implement Custom Value Formatting

  • In the Setup tab of the Properties panel, click the icon corresponding to the data field's type.
  • Choose a value formatting option from the Display Format drop-down menu.
  • To create a custom format, select "Custom value format" to open the Custom number format menu.
  • Enter the desired format.
  • Preview the format and click Apply to implement the changes.

Let us now look at the following example to see how custom formatting can significantly improve our attempts at data visualization by providing contextual information that helps comprehension and simplifies interpretation.

As the accompanying chart shows, it is more effective to include descriptive text such as "This month saw xx orders in total" rather than simply showing the total number of orders placed. This provides users with context in addition to raw data, allowing them to better grasp the relevance of the information. 

Additional Considerations:

  • If the Compact numbers feature is enabled, all custom formatting that has been applied to the chart values will be overwritten.
  • Value formatting specific to a particular chart is limited to that chart and cannot be extended to other reports in a general way.
  • Charts with custom formatting can be cloned while maintaining the stated formatting settings, however direct reuse of chart-specific value formatting is not possible.


Users may struggle to comprehend the visualizations of complex datasets based purely on numbers. As a result, using custom formatting to include descriptive text with numerical data improves comprehension. Readers are steered to the right information analysis by offering succinct and unambiguous explanations. This enables consumers to gain a better understanding of the information and make decisions based on its insights. 

To sum up, custom value formatting gives you the ability to fine-tune how data is presented in reports so that insights are communicated clearly and successfully. You may improve the visual depiction of data and enhance the viewing experience for both stakeholders and decision-makers by implementing custom value formatting.

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