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Charts in Tableau

Introduction to creating charts in Tableau.

As introduced in the video, different chart types can be used to display different types of information. Each of the chart types mentioned in the video can be created using Tableau.

Creating charts can be as quick as double-clicking your dimensions or measures. For more control, you can drag and drop elements.

Go to: (Optional)Creating charts: making your first charts in Tableau (2.34) [1]

This video is a short introduction to creating charts in Tableau.

In the following examples, we’ll revisit the Global Superstore data and use it to create several chart types. We recommend you follow these steps, creating a new worksheet for each chart.

Creating bar charts

You can create a bar chart by placing a dimension on the Rows shelf and a measure on the Columns shelf, or vice versa.

For your first chart, let’s analyse sales by category. In the data pane, double-click Sales and then double-click Category.

Screenshot of Tableau shows the dashboard with the “Show Me” tab open on the right hand side. This opens a variety of chart style options. “Bar Chart’ is selected. On top there are two fill-Ins for “Columns” and “Rows”. Click to enlarge

Drill down into subcategories by dragging them into the Columns shelf, to the left of Category.

Screenshot of Tableau shows the dashboard with a vertical “Bar Chart’ selected. On top there are two fill-Ins for “Columns” and “Rows”. “Columns” has “Category” filled in. The Columns” and “Rows" fill-Ins allow you to chage change the x and y-axis of the bar chart. Click to enlarge

At this stage, the chart isn’t very easy to read. Remember what we said about adjusting the orientation and ordering columns? To do that, click Swap in the toolbar and then use the Sort icon to order the bars.

Screenshot of Tableau shows the dashboard with three buttons for arrangements to “Swap and Sort”. Click to enlarge

Your chart should look like this.

Screenshot of Tableau shows “Sheet 1” dashboard open. There is a horizontal bar chart with “Sub Categories” and “Category” on the y-axis. The x-axis reads “Sales”. Above in the “Columns” and Rows” section you can see where the tags for “Sub Categories”, “Category” and “Sales” are typed in (you can drag and change these around) which will alter the chart accordingly. Click to enlarge

That’s much better. You can see which categories are selling well and which aren’t, but that tells only half the story. Let’s augment the chart with additional data; that is, our profits.

To add profits to the chart, drag Profit from the data pane until the Show Me cursor appears.

Screenshot of Tableau shows “Show Me”. This is a small button that is hovering over the bar graph which has an icon with a small graph saying “Show Me”. Click to enlarge

When you drop Profit, Tableau will display data on the Color shelf.

Screenshot of Tableau shows the same screenshot used for “Swapped and Sorted”. The only difference is that previously all of the bars in the graph were all the same colour of blue. Now all of the bars are all different shades of blue with an orange bar included. Click to enlarge

What stands out in the table above? That’s right, tables might be our best-seller – but they are not profitable.

At this stage, our chart has quite a lot of small sub-categories under Office Supplies at the bottom of the chart. They could distract your users. This data is still useful, but perhaps we don’t need to see it right now. In Tableau, we can group data.

To group data:

  1. Hold down CTRL and click each of the sub-categories to select them.

  2. Click on Exclude to remove unnecessary bars.

Screenshot of Tableau shows “Exclude”. There is a pop up menu hovering over the bar chart. The pop us has two tabs: “Keep Only” or “Exclude”. Click to enlarge

This action doesn’t alter the underlying data. It changes only the presentation of the chart.

Screenshot of Tableau shows “Excluded”. The “Filters” pane is open with “Exclusions” selected. Click to enlarge

Creating line charts

Line charts are used to visualise changes over time. Let’s create a line chart to look at our sales over time on Tableau.

In a new worksheet, drag Order Date into Columns, and Sales into Rows. Tableau will aggregate the dates by year and then aggregate Sales as SUM to display a simple line chart.

Screenshot of Tableau shows “Sparse Line”. The line graph looks sparse as the x-axis with the dates: 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014 are sitting very close together. Click to enlarge

Your chart’s looking a bit sparse. Let’s adjust the time scale to see the data plotted in months rather than by year.

  1. Click the drop-down arrow in the Year (Order Date) field on the Columns shelf.

  2. Select Month May 2015.

Screenshot of Tableau shows “Select Month”. In the “Columns” shelf “Year” is selected. It had s a drop down menu with “Month” selected. Click to enlarge

You’ll see a continuous range of values over the four-year period.

Screenshot of Tableau shows “Four Year”. In the “Columns” shelf “Month” is selected. There is now a more detailed view of the continuous range of values over the 4-year period from 2011-2015. Click to enlarge

Creating scatter plots

In Tableau, you create a scatter chart by placing at least one measure on the Columns shelf and at least one measure on the Rows shelf.

To create a scatter chart:

  1. Open a new sheet.

  2. Drag the Profit measure into Columns and the Discount measure into Rows. By default, Tableau will aggregate these measures as a sum and create the relevant horizontal and vertical axis, placing one mark on the scatter plot.

Screenshot of Tableau shows “Scatter Single”. In the “Columns” shelf “Profit” is selected and in “Rows” “Discount” is selected. The graph shows 1 single point on the chart. Click to enlarge

To expand these, go to Analysis and uncheck Aggregate measures.

Screenshot of Tableau shows “Aggregate Measures”. Under the “Analysis” tab “you can select “Aggregate Measures”. Click to enlarge

You can add more data to scatter charts, just as you could with bar charts. Drag Segment to Color to help identify the segment your outliers belong to.

Screenshot of Tableau shows “Segment to Colour”. Under the “Marks” pane “you can see options for “Color”, “Size”, “Label”, “Detail”, “Tooltip” and “Shape”. “Color” is selected. There is also an “Automatic” button option. Click to enlarge

To focus on a single segment, you can click on a specific option in the legend and select the segment to focus on (e.g. Corporate).

Screenshot of Tableau shows “Segment Corporate”. The “Columns” shelf has “Profit” selected and “Discount” has “Rows”. “Segment” is highlighted in the “Marks” pane. In that highlighted “Segment” pane “Corporate” is selected. Click to enlarge

We can also add filters. To add a filter for Segment, drag this into the Filters shelf. In the pop-up window, click OK.

 Screenshot of Tableau shows “Filters Segment”. The filter comes up with 4 tabs “General”, “Wildcard”, “Condition”, and “Top”. “General” is selected. In the “General” tab there are selection buttons for “Select from list”, “Custom value list”, and “Use all”. “Select from list” is selected – which has 3 check box options: “Consumer”, “Corporate”, and “Home Office”. Click to enlarge

To show the filter, click the field drop-down menu in the data pane and select Show Filter. You’ll see a list of filters to the right of the chart. You can select or deselect these to show specific data.

Screenshot of Tableau shows “Show Filter”. To show the filter, click the “Segment” drop-down menu in the “Filters” section and select “Show Filter”. Click to enlarge


1. Creating your first chart [Video]. Tableau Training; 2016 Aug 15. Available from:

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