What’s the Point of Chart Headers in Google Data Studio?

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For the most part, Google Data Studio is a powerful data visualization tool that anyone with some knowledge in web analytics can dive right into. But there are some things about it that remain mystifying.

Chart header options

At the bottom of the Theme and layout customization panel, there are three options for Chart header:

  1. Show on hover
  2. Always show
  3. Show on hover

The third option, “show on hover,” is the default.

But what this field actually does is a mystery to a lot of people.

Editing chart header text

There isn’t an obvious place to edit the chart header. If you Google it, you’ll find several long-running threads from confused users. Nimantha explains it with a gif in the Data Studio Help forums.

Always show header

If you change the Chart Header field from Show on hover to Always show, it’ll add a blank space on top of the chart.

To edit the text, click the Text icon in the navigation. Type in the desired text and drag it to the desired location.

Google Data Studio chart header text area
Google Data Studio chart header text area

That’s simple enough. A few more steps than required and obviously an oversight on Google’s part, but it’s tolerable for such a powerful (and free) service.

Show header on hover

Now let’s see what happens when I change the theme option to Show on hover. It should hide it unless the visitor hovers over the text area that I dragged into the chart header area, right?

Nope.

Google Data Studio chart header: Show on hover
“Show on hover” option in Chart Header

It just squishes the text and chart closer. That’s not good, especially if you have a multi-page report with dozens of charts formatted this way.

Do not show header

The expected behavior would be that selecting this option would disable chart headers throughout the report. Again, that’s not the case.

Do not show option in Chart Header
“Do not show” option in Google Data Studio

So it appears the chart header option only makes space for a text area.

Is there a point?

I honestly don’t think there is. As others have pointed out on Google’s forums, it’s nonsensical to have text color options if they don’t even apply to the text area.

Chart Header text color
Chart header text color selector in Google Data Studio

A Data Studio Community post by Arsen Arutyunyan from October 2019 is active with fellow puzzled users.

There’s been no clarification on if the option will be available. I’m sure the developers at Data Studio think it’s as silly as anyone. It probably just isn’t big enough of a priority for anyone to fix.

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