Quick tips that can make all the difference in Tableau

by Elnisa Marques

Today I will share some of the tips I have learned so far in my Tableau journey. As a beginner Tableau user, I go through many ‘wow’ moments but also some ‘what did I do wrong? Why it isn’t working?’ instants. All those moments are learning moments that today I can share and hopefully help you surpass some of the ‘what did I do wrong?’ situations.

1 – Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you’ve published your workbook to Tableau Public as a packaged workbook or .twbx and wanted to make just one change to your original data but didn’t have it at hand?

Save your workbook to your drive somewhere and right click the file. Click unpackage and Tableau will create a folder containing the data in an excel format and any pictures you may have imported to the original workbook. In addition Tableau will create a .twb which is your unpacked workbook, bear in mind that if you have updated your Tableau version since creating your original version, Tableau will update your .twb to the latest version.



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2 – When your visualization looks quite good, but you just want that small alteration which will ‘make all the difference’. After a couple of clicks you realise that everything went ‘bonkers’ and you think ‘Why?! Why did I had to do that!’

My tip is: Undo button is your greatest friend. When you find yourself in a tight spot, this unlimited feature is your best friend and is just a click away as many times as needed.


3 –  You know that Tableau can do what you are planning, but you just cannot see where you can do it or where you have to click to make it happen.

One of the first things we learned in data school is: ‘when in doubt, right-click’ and this will be correct for almost all the ‘what will you do next?’ questions. You can find numerous menus that Tableau opens as needed, so just right-click and explore.


4 – You have managed to do that really laborious calculated field, the small grey print says ‘the calculation is valid’ and ecstatically you click Ok. That is such a great beginner feeling! But, now wait!! ‘where is my calculated field? I cannot find it!

Despair not, it happens. My advice is: always name your calculated fields so you can easily identify them; once again remind yourself that Tableau is your friend and will try to make your experience as effortless as possible giving you visual clues. Look for these visual clues that in case of the calculated fields is the ‘=’ sign next to them in the data pane.

I hope you find this useful.