Cheating with Number Formats: From Negative to Positive

by Kirsty Fraser

Got some negative values but need them to be positive? Well, you’ve come to the right place! Here’s a step by step guide of how to get rid of that pesky negative sign using a little number formatting cheat.

  1. Let’s introduce the data we want to change. In this case, we have a list of stores and their sales and we ultimately want to end with a bar graph which represents this data. For the purposes of this tutorial, the sales have been mistakenly written as negative (nightmare!!).

2. In Tableau, drag and drop the Sales and Store pills into your dimensions and rows. As suspected, we get a negative axis with all our values:


3. Right click on the Sales pill, then select Default Properties > Number Format…

4. Highlight the Custom section. In the Custom Format box type: ##;##. The hashtags on the left side of the semicolon represent positive values and the format you would like them to be in. The hashtags on the right side represent the way negative values are to be displayed- in this case, no negative sign. If we wanted the positive values to have a negative sign in front of them we would write: -##;##.

5. Click OK. We can see our values have been indeed been changed but the axis is pointing the wrong way.

6. To finish, right click on the Sales axis > Edit Axis…

Then tick “Reversed” to switch the axis.

7. And there we have it! A quick hack for number formatting positive and negative values!




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