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Grafana Cloud Enterprise Open source

Annotate visualizations

Annotations provide a way to mark points on a visualization with rich events. They are visualized as vertical lines and icons on all graph panels. When you hover over an annotation, you can get event description and event tags. The text field can include links to other systems with more detail.

Annotated visualization with annotation context menu open

You can annotate visualizations in three ways:

  • Directly in the panel, using the built-in annotations query
  • Using the HTTP API
  • Configuring annotation queries in the dashboard settings

In the first two cases, you’re creating new annotations, while in the last you’re querying existing annotations from data sources. The built-in annotation query also supports this.

This page explains the first and third options; for information about using the HTTP API, refer to Annotations API.

Annotations are supported for the following visualization types:

  • Time series
  • State timeline
  • Candlestick

Create annotations in panels

Grafana comes with the ability to add annotation events directly from a panel using the built-in annotation query that exists on all dashboards. Annotations that you create this way are stored in Grafana.

To add annotations directly in the panel:

  • The dashboard must already be saved.
  • The built-in query must be enabled. Learn more in Built-in query.

Add an annotation

To add an annotation, complete the following steps:

  1. In the dashboard click the panel to which you’re adding the annotation. A context menu will appear.
  2. In the context menu, click Add annotation. Add annotation context menu
  3. Add an annotation description and tags (optional).
  4. Click Save.

Alternatively, to add an annotation, press Ctrl/Cmd and click the panel, and the Add annotation popover will appear.

Add a region annotation

  1. In the dashboard press Ctrl/Cmd and click and drag on the panel. Add annotation popover
  2. Add an annotation description and tags (optional).
  3. Click Save.

Edit an annotation

  1. In the dashboard, hover over an annotation indicator on the Time series panel.
  2. Click on the pencil icon in the annotation tooltip.
  3. Modify the description and/or tags.
  4. Click save.

Delete an annotation

  1. In the dashboard hover over an annotation indicator on a panel.
  2. Click on the trash icon in the annotation tooltip.

Fetch annotations through dashboard settings

In the dashboard settings, under Annotations, you can add new queries to fetch annotations using any data source, including the built-in data annotation data source. Annotation queries return events that can be visualized as event markers in graphs across the dashboard.

Add new annotation queries

To add a new annotation query to a dashboard, take the following steps:

  1. Click the dashboard settings (gear) icon in the dashboard header to open the settings menu.

  2. Select Annotations.

  3. Click Add annotation query.

    If you’ve added a query before, the + New query button is displayed.

  4. Enter a name for the annotation query.

    This name is given to the toggle (checkbox) that will allow you to enable/disable showing annotation events from this query.

  5. Select the data source for the annotations.

    You can also click Open advanced data source picker to see more options, including adding a data source (Admins only).

  6. If you don’t want to use the annotation query right away, clear the Enabled checkbox.

  7. If you don’t want the annotation query toggle to be displayed in the dashboard, select the Hidden checkbox.

  8. Select a color for the event markers.

  9. In the Show in drop-down, choose one of the following options:

    • All panels - The annotations are displayed on all panels that support annotations.
    • Selected panels - The annotations are displayed on all the panels you select.
    • All panels except - The annotations are displayed on all panels except the ones you select.
    Annotation filtering
    Annotation filtering
  10. Configure the query.

    The annotation query options are different for each data source. For information about annotations in a specific data source, refer to the specific data source topic.

Built-in query

After you add an annotation, they will still be visible. This is due to the built-in annotation query that exists on all dashboards. This annotation query will fetch all annotation events that originate from the current dashboard, which are stored in Grafana, and show them on the panel where they were created. This includes alert state history annotations.

By default, the built-in annotation query uses the -- Grafana -- special data source, and manual annotations are only supported using this data source. You can use another data source in the built-in annotation query, but you’ll only be able to create automated annotations using the query editor for that data source.

To add annotations directly to the dashboard, this query must be enabled.

To confirm if the built-in query is enabled, take the following steps:

  1. Click the dashboard settings (gear) icon in the dashboard header to open the dashboard settings menu.

  2. Click Annotations.

  3. Find the Annotations & Alerts (Built-in) query.

    If it says Disabled before the name of the query, then you’ll need to click the query name to open it and update the setting.

You can stop annotations from being fetched and drawn by taking the following steps:

  1. Click the dashboard settings (gear) icon in the dashboard header to open the settings menu.
  2. Click Annotations.
  3. Find and click the Annotations & Alerts (Built-in) query to open it.
  4. Click the Enabled toggle to turn it off.

When you copy a dashboard using the Save As feature it will get a new dashboard id, so annotations created on the source dashboard will no longer be visible on the copy. You can still show them if you add a new Annotation Query and filter by tags. However, this only works if the annotations on the source dashboard had tags to filter by.

Following are some query options specific to the built-in annotation query.

Filter queries by tag

You can create new queries to fetch annotations from the built-in annotation query using the -- Grafana -- data source by setting Filter by to Tags.

Grafana v8.1 and later versions also support typeahead of existing tags, provide at least one tag.

For example, create an annotation query name outages and specify a tag outage. This query will show all annotations (from any dashboard or via API) with the outage tag. If multiple tags are defined in an annotation query, then Grafana will only show annotations matching all the tags. To modify the behavior, enable Match any, and Grafana will show annotations that contain any one of the tags you provided.

Annotation query options

You can also use template variables in the tag query. This means if you have a dashboard showing stats for different services and a template variable that dictates which services to show, you can use the same template variable in your annotation query to only show annotations for those services.

Annotation query options with a template variable query tag

Add time regions

When adding or editing an annotation, you can define a repeating time region by setting Query type to Time regions. Then, define the From and To sections with the preferred days of the week and time. You also have the option to change the timezone, which is set to the dashboard’s timezone, by default.

Time regions options set to business hours

The above configuration will produce the following result in the Time series panel:

Time series visualization with time regions business hours