Making The Most of Padding

by Adam Ratcliffe

This week as part of my Data School training we were recreating a dashboard we found online.

When I saw this dashboard we would be creating my first thought was how would we connect the titles to the charts beneath. I knew we could remove the padding to make them both as close as possible but not with the other whitespace in the dashboard.


If you've ever put a dashboard together in Tableau then you'll be aware of the padding menu for dashboard elements.

Padding menu in its default form

Outer padding determines how close to the edge of the container your dashboard element is filled. Lots of outer padding will create lots of whitespace between dashboard elements. No outer padding means no whitespace between dashboard elements on the dashboard.

Outer Padding example (no inner padding)

Inner padding determines how the dashboard element is scaled within its container. Lots of inner padding creates lots of whitespace within its container. No inner padding means the sheet is as big as it can be within its container.

Inner Padding example (no outer padding)

All sides are not equal

What I had not done prior to recreating this dashboard with the rest of DS23 was to uncheck the 'All sides equal' checkbox.

I had not previously come across a use case to uncheck this box but in making this dashboard I saw how it opens up a higher level of customisability within dashboard layouts.

To answer my original question of how will we being connecting the title text box to the sheet below, we go where I had never gone before, we uncheck the box.

If you look at the dashboard we were replicating you can see it has whitespace between title cards and between sheets. To give this white space all elements are given some outer padding. But for the title cards we uncheck the 'All sides equal' box and we remove the bottom outer padding, and for the sheets beneath them we remove the top outer padding.

Like The Creation of Adam the two containers reach out to each other and their shading align, becoming one.

As you can see the titles for each section appear on the same shaded card as the first chart in those sections. Unchecking the box means we can rearrange this dashboard in many ways. We could have just 3 columns for each section.

Or in a series of rows (which I do not like).

Or something like this.

This kind of selective padding does a great job at breaking the dashboard down into easily consumed chunks. To see how we had dynamically coloured BANs check out Harry Beardon's blog post.

So for more dashboard possibilities uncheck the box, there is a lot more you can do by shading a sheet and playing with padding.


Adam Ratcliffe

Fri 07 May 2021

Mon 26 Apr 2021