Tableau chart tips & tricks from Andy's Zen Master talk

by Ellie Mason
[Spoiler alert – don’t read if you’re going to Andy’s talk at TC18!]


Yesterday, DS11 learnt about Visual Analytics, so it was quite fitting that Andy gave a talk as a Zen Master on ‘Tableau Tips & Tricks – Charts Edition’. We got to sit in and watch him create and talk through about 80 charts in 75 mins! As a pretty-much newbie to Tableau, the tips and capabilities were really cool to see.


Andy talking live to DS10 and DS11 (as well as the people watching on the Webinar)


Aside from learning that Andy’s favourite colour scheme on Tableau was Magma 2.0 diverging and the existence of the Analytics pane, below are some cool things I hadn’t known you could do, or at least do so seemingly very easily!! I’ve attempted to explain some of them but definitely won’t have done Andy’s explanations justice.


  1. General use of the Ctrl key and right click – whilst I knew you could use the ‘Ctrl’ key when dragging a pill/ field onto the row/ column to more easily select the sum/ average, Andy seemed to use it a lot to make processes quicker
  2. Duplication is often the answer – creating some of the fancier charts was often more simple that you’d think: duplicate the pill/ field or chart and overlay/ amend them that way
  3. Pill/ field duplication to layer and manipulate on a chart to create additional types of chart
  4. Adding a ‘total’ label to a stacked bar chart – executed by adding a reference line, labelling it and then not colouring the line
  5. Combined axis view from simply dragging and dropping a field/ pill onto said axis
  6. No colour – simply make transparency 0%
  7. Drag and drop fields/ pills directly into the calculate box
  8. The path shelf – appears from when you select the line type within the marks card, I didn’t know this existed and it’s pretty cool
  9. Scatter paths – using the path shelf in the marks card you can trace the movement of a point through time on a scatterplot
  10. Losing the negative values from a tool tip when representing the data ‘backwards’ – e.g. out of the left hand side of an diverging area chart, executed by removing the minus number in custom format of that axis (#,##0.00;#,##0.00)
  11. Double clicking within a shelf to create a new calculated field – and you can type the calculation within the shelf
  12. Right clicking generally is the answer – e.g. you can take a field out of a tooltip by right clicking on a pill and unticking ‘include in tooltip’
  13. Annotations with fields in them – super helpful for adding changing years for example, whereas I previous used a separate floating sheet
  14. Create groups within a chart – select a few values (lassoing them or simply dragging to select), right click, select the paperclip icon and this will add that group as a discrete field: visual grouping
  15. Add beginning/ end labels within a separate line chart using min/ max function
  16. Creating a slope graph – select beginning and end for that field and keep these values only
  17. Forecasting – with and without bands but also as a trajectory, i.e. tacked onto the end of the line graph rather than a white space separating it
  18. Heat maps – use x/y coordinates on a scatter plot as lat/ long proxies
  19. Calendars – you can (more easily than I thought) make a calendar, including the small date in each box. This is executed by adding a month or month/ year filter, put week day on columns and week number on rows, then put a day on the label shelf – remembering to format to top left. You can then colour the calendar, e.g .by profit.
  20. Creation of a donut chart – duplication and overlaying!


See here for Andy’s helpful viz.


Remember to sign up to The Information Lab’s Meet up page: Let’s Talk Data


Fri 01 Feb 2019

Fri 01 Feb 2019

Fri 01 Feb 2019