Tooltips: How to use it or lose it

by Alice Haslett

Tooltips are a great way to show additional data that is specific to certain points or times, without cluttering your view unnecessarily. This blog will look at taking tooltips one step further and adding a viz to the tooltip in Tableau. Additionally, although tooltips can be a huge asset, sometimes they are not necessary, so I will also demonstrate how to stop the tooltip from showing, without deleting all of contents inside the tooltip pane. This can come in handy as it means that you do not lose your work, so if you change your mind and want to add the tooltip back in, you can easily do so. 

I will be using a viz on World Cube Association (WCA) competitions as an example of when a viz in tooltip can be useful. WCA is an association that holds mechanical puzzle competitions and the viz was looking at where future competitions should be held. If you would like to see the full viz, here is a link:!/vizhome/WhereshouldtheWCAholdits2020competitions/DemogChg12 

Below (Image 1), is one of the graphs on the dashboard. 

(Image 1)

Although it is useful to see the trends of players in each continent, it is a broad overview and within that we do not know if there is an even split of the number of players between 20 countries in that continent, or if it is just extremely popular in 1 country. From an analysis point of view it would be beneficial to have both a broad overview, and more specific insight. 

By adding a viz in tooltip, now when we hover over South America in 2016 (Image 2, below), we can see dynamic additional country specific information for that continent. 

(Image 2)

How to make a viz in tooltip

Step 1. Make the worksheet that you want shown on your dashboard

(Image 3)

Step 2. Make the viz that you want to show in the tooltip

(Image 4)

Step 3. Add viz to tooltip

3a. Select ‘Tooltip’

(Image 5)

3b. Select ‘Insert’ on the top right of the ‘Edit Tooltip’ box

(Image 6)

3. Select ‘Sheets’

(Image 7)

3d. Select the sheet that you want to add to the tooltip, from the panel that pops up to the right of the ‘Sheets’ button

(Image 8)

Once selected, this sheet should then be listed in the text of your ‘Edit Tooltip’ text box, as shown in Image 9.

(Image 9)

3e. Select ‘OK’

(Image 10)

If you look at the worksheet of the viz that is inside the tooltip (Image 11), you can see that in the filters shelf, there is now a filter starting with ‘Tooltip..’. This is filtering the worksheet based on the dimensions in the view of the main sheet. In this case the tooltip filter looks at the continent the player is from, as well as the year. As the worksheet is filtered to look at Top 10 countries for entrants, the new tooltip filter will make the Top 10 dynamic so that when South America in 2016 is hovered over, it will filter the results to show the top 10 for South America in 2016 and not just the ten shown on the worksheet at the moment. 

(Image 11)

Some suggestions for using vizzes in tooltips:

  1. Make sure that the tooltip does not too become big for the view.
  2. When deciding if a viz in tooltip would be beneficial, consider if the message you are trying to convey would be better received if the viz is directly on the dashboard, or as additional information in the tooltip.
  3. Try not to overuse viz in tooltips. Consider if the viz in tooltip will add benefit to the dashboard and whether it will help with the viewer’s understanding/the journey you want the dashboard to take people on. The great thing about viz in tooltips is the additional layer of information it can provide, however, it is important to make sure that the information you’re adding is still responding to the purpose of the dashboard. When it is thought of as additional information it can be easy to add information that is interesting but not adding value to your message.

To stop showing Tooltips

1. Select ‘Tooltip’

(Image 12)

2. Untick the box that says ‘Show Tooltips’

(Image 12)

To re-add the tooltip in, just retick the box.

Fri 10 Jan 2020

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