GA4 Annotations: How to Add Them in 2024

GA4 annotations are a core element of Google Analytics 4 as they provide context. You can understand why a metric dropped or increased on a specific date or week using annotations. Therefore, importing annotations in Google Analytics 4 from Universal Analytics and adding new annotations is one of the first questions I got from my clients.

Therefore, I wrote this article explaining how to use annotations with Google Analytics 4.

What are annotations in GA4? 

As mentioned above, annotations give context or a short description of an event that happened, and that caused a change in metrics in one or another direction. 

If you know what happened on a specific date or week, you can better understand your business, determine seasonality, and how public holidays impact your business’s bottom line. For instance, if you are an ecommerce company, you can find that on a specific date 20 times more people bought umbrellas, then you find that it was raining there. 

So “The number of umbrellas sold due to bad weather in Florida” can be an annotation in this case. 

Does GA4 have annotations?

Unfortunately, Google Analytics 4 does not offer native annotations at this time. Once you upgrade from Universal Analytics, you lose that functionality. In this article, I will share four different ways to add annotations in GA4. These include:

  1. Using a Chrome browser extension ( or Crystal Ball)
  2. Using Google Sheets
  3. Using Google Looker Studio 
  4. Using a website plugin such as MonsterInsights

How to add annotations in GA4: 4 Ways

Way #1: Using Chrome browser extensions: or Crystal Ball

GAannotations homepage
GAannotations homepage

An external freemium solution on the market can help you export your annotations from Universal Analytics and import them into Google Analytics 4. This solution is a Chrome extension called GAannotations/Crystal Ball, that allows you to migrate annotations from UA to GA4. 

If you want to try GAannotations, download it here

There are two options to add annotations: CSV import or manual insertion. You can use both for free for a single GA4 property. If you need more features, you can visit GAannotations’ pricing page.

After downloading the Chrome extension and adding it to the browser, you should follow these steps:

  1. Check your GA4 property and see how it looks 
  2. Pin the extension in Google Chrome
  3. Create the account using your email address and password
  4. Add annotations using CSV import or manually  
GAannotations chrome extension in use
GAannotations chrome extension in use

Way #2: Using Google Sheets

Google Sheets Annotations
How to Add Annotations in Google Analytics 4 Using Google Sheets

The second method uses Google Sheets as the primary storage for all your annotations. It can be relevant for analysts or business owners who use Google Looker Studio or Tableau because then you can use this document to show the annotations there.

The document format can differ, but, in general, you should have two required columns: a) date and 2) annotation. Some analysts add an additional column for who wrote the annotations and what kind of event it was; all of that is optional. 

You can download the template I created here

Google Sheets Annotations in Google Data Studio
Google Sheets Annotations in Google Data Studio

Way #3: Using Google Looker Studio

Google Data Studio Variant
Google Data Studio Variant

To use this option, you will require Google Looker Studio, Google Calendar, Zapier, and Google Sheets. You can either use an existing Looker Studio dashboard or create a new one. Additionally, you can use a free Zapier subscription that allows you to add up to 100 annotations (Zapier tasks) each month. Please follow the instructions below:

  1. First, create a Google Sheet and add three columns: Date, Category, and Annotation. The Category column is optional, but it helps you sort different types of annotations in your report. 
  2. Now, open Zapier and connect your Google Sheet with Google Calendar.
    1. Create a New Zap.
    2. On the trigger, select Google Calendar and the New Event option. Then, use the Calendar in which you want to add your annotations. Test Trigger, and witness the magic happening.
    3. Now, for the Action in Zapier, let’s select Google Sheets. Connect your Google Sheets account.
    4. Fill in the data in the Action using your Google Sheets account, Google Calendar, and Google Drive. Once all is set, click the Publish button.
  3. Then create a new, empty report on Google Data Studio and do the following actions:
    1. Add a new data source and select the GA4 property you want to add annotations to. 
    2. Add a new data source and select a Google Sheet that was created before. Select the sheet with the GA4 annotations, click Add, then Add to Report. 
    3. On the Resource menu, select Manage Blends. Select Google Analytics 4 source and then Google Sheets. Use “Date” to blend the two data sources. Name the new blended data source and save it. 
    4. Add a line chart for the number of users and add the remaining annotation information in the same chart using different bar chart visualization options. Add the table with the annotations underneath and filter the “null” results that show for days that do not have an annotation. 
  4. Test your new dashboard by creating a new event in Google Calendar, wait for a few minutes, and press “Refresh Data” on Looker Studio. 

If you faced any problems while following the aforementioned steps, you may want to watch the video below for better understanding.

Way #4: Using the website plugin

MosterInsights WP Plugin
Annotating important events with MonsterInsights

MonsterInsights is an example of a plugin you can use for GA4 annotations. First of all, you need to install the plugin on WordPress. You can check the prices for it on their pricing page. The MonsterInsights dashboard allows you to expand on WP functions, and, from it, you can add annotations on your data that will then show in your GA4 view. 

How to migrate annotations to GA4

There is a way to migrate your Universal Analytics annotations to GA4 using the Crystal Ball Extension. This is how.

  1. Download and install the Crystal Ball Chrome Extension and login. 
  2. Open the Google Analytics UA property you have the annotations on. 
  3. Go to Admin on the left side menu, and click “Annotations”. 
  4. Use the Ctrl-C shortcut to copy the list. 
  5. Then, log into your Crystal Ball account. 
  6. In the annotations list page, click “CSV Upload” to proceed. 
  7. Download the sample CSV Excel sheet to copy your annotation list into it.
  8. Paste the annotations from UA into the sample CSV file. 
  9. Choose your GA property linked to this list of annotations, click “Upload and Preview” and then map the columns. 
  10. If there is any error, fix the marked fields and continue until all fields match. 
  11. Click on “Submit” and you have successfully uploaded your list of annotations.
  12. Go to your GA4 account and click on the dots over the GA4 charts.

Now, you have successfully transferred your annotation data from UA into your GA4 property. 

Why do people use annotations? 

The main reason why people use annotations is that our memory could be better, and we tend to forget things. 

Therefore, we take notes and do annotations in Google Analytics. It’s tricky to remember every event that causes a change over a year or 5 and relying on your extended (or second) brain can be highly suitable.

Analysts use different types of annotations. I have collected the most popular ones, but you can extend this list to include the ones that matter to your business.

#1 Market News 

If you are operating in a specific niche and your competitor tool hasn’t worked for a day or two or users had an issue accessing it, it can lead to a massive spike in your conversions, and such an event should be annotated. 

For instance, while working with Mailbird, we had a lot of market news about when some specific email service provider (like Gmail or Outlook) or email client wasn’t accessible to people worldwide, and it improved our metrics significantly. 

It also means that you should have a system to track such events to adjust your marketing strategy accordingly.

#2 Marketing campaigns | Promotions

Another type of annotation is related to marketing. You can conduct multiple seasonal ad campaigns, such as Black Friday, Cyber Monday, New Year, Christmas, Women’s Day, and others. All these small campaigns can significantly change your business performance, so you should annotate them.

#3 Dev Changes on Your Website

You can be the last to know that someone changed your website because your developers don’t think analytics is something meaningful for the business. Believe me; it’s extremely common. 

Thus, talk to people, check your website daily and be aware of when something happens on the website, whether it’s a change in the blog exit pop-up or a change on the checkout pages. You should know about it and annotate it in Google Analytics 4.

#4 Public Holidays and Seasonal events

This category of annotations is close to the second one. New Year or the Summer season can change your business performance. Some businesses can rethink their spending and buy your software only in January every year. So perhaps it is something that you should keep in your annotations and tell your marketing team about. 

#5 Online changes

Last but not least, there are online changes. Google can change SEO rules, your site got hacked, or your hosting didn’t work for 4 hours. 

If all of that makes a difference to your business, then you should annotate it. 

If there is anything else I didn’t mention here, it doesn’t mean you should ignore it. You can comment below and let me know how and why you use annotations. I will be highly grateful because this exchange can improve your business and mine as well.

Do you need help with Google Analytics 4?

If you are not used to Google Analytics 4, and would like some help, you have come to the right place. I can help you figure out why your users aren’t taking the desired action, how to increase traffic to your website, and how to make a profit from each of these users landing on your website. GA4 annotations can be extremely helpful in this process, as they help you understand sales trends and recognize events that affect your traffic. Reach out here

Final Thoughts on GA4 Annotations

An annotation is a powerful tool for better understanding your business performance. Unfortunately, GA4 doesn’t have an in-built annotations feature yet. Therefore, you should consider using the Crystal Ball/GAannotations Chrome Extensions, Google Sheets, Looker Studio, or a WordPress plugin. 

Have you found another way of managing annotations in GA4? Please let me know by commenting below.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does GA4 have annotations?

No, GA4 doesn’t have annotations. You can use the or the Crystal Ball Chrome Extensions. Otherwise, you can consider using Google Sheets, Looker Studio or a WordPress plugin like MonsterInsights.

How to annotate in GA4?

There is no annotations feature in GA4. You should use an external chrome browser extension – Crystal Ball. 

What are annotations in Google Analytics 4?

Annotations are a context or a short description of the event that happened and caused the change of the metric in one or another direction. For instance, paid ads budget increases, Google Search algorithm updates, promotions, etc.

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