When you first start working with Google analytics one of the tougher distinctions to wrap your head around is the difference between metrics and dimensions.

First Steps

An easy way to distinguish them is just to think about the two categories as they appear on the table:

Dimensions are the rows

Metrics are the columns

A simplistic approach, but one that works very well.

The longer you work with these tables, the more you will begin to internalize the differences.

Another simple way to think about the difference is to think about dimensions as the things you want information about and the metrics as the numbers or the informationn about those things.


As you begin to work with Analytics more and more, you can begin to think of the differences between the two in more abstract terms. This allows you to imagine new dimensions and metrics that Google hasn’t pre-created for you.

On the abstract level you can think of dimensions as the big picture topics that you want into on.

  • Country
  • Traffic
  • Device type

And then think of metrics as the details about these big picture topics

  • Bounce rate
  • New sessions

Metrics vs dimensions is important when thinking about scope in Google Analytics.


There are three types of scope:

  • hit level
  • session level
  • user level

Metrics can only be compared with dimensions (and vice versa) if they are in the same scope.