Drag and Drop Labels in Tableau - Part 1 - Dimension Label

by Liu Zhang
Tip Jar
Photo by Sam Dan Truong / Unsplash

Tableau offers different way of creating desired visualizations. We can either drag and drop the labels into the Rows and Columns shelf.

Rather counter-intuitively, label in column shelf will give a row label. And vice versa for row shelf. So a bit more intuitively method will be drag and drop the labels into the worksheet (View) directly, and Tableau provides a much more direct visual cues.

Depends on where the label is dragged, the icon changes.

So for this blog, let's see how a dimension label will behave when we drag it into the view.

Note: dimension labels are often discrete (blue), while measure labels are often continuous (green), so we shall keep the common cases in this series.

Remember: blue labels create headers

Tableau highlights the area for you when moved over

The result is equivalent to drag and drop the label into the row shelf.

The name of Columns and Rows is always a bit count-intuitive to me. As I dropped the dimension in the column, but it appears in the Rows shelf, so we may need a different way of thinking about it, i.e. data is to be broken up into rows.

Things start to getting interesting when we want to put more labels into the view.

Dimension - drill down

Positioned before the first label

If we try drop another dimension onto the existing one, we may get the above view, where it indicates another column will be added, i.e. we are going to break down the data further.


Dimension - replace

Positioned on the first label

If we drag the new dimension label on top of the original label, we will only see one bar, this will replace the existing label if we dropped the new one.


We see the original dimension label is being replaced in the Rows shelf.

Dimension - Cross tab

Positioned horizontally

We can also drag a dimension label to the horizontal position, Tableau will create another header, i.e. cross table.


Note: Since there is no value in the Columns shelf initially, we have nothing to replace or breakdown.

In the part of the series, we will have a look how measure labels are behaved when being drag and dropped.

Looking for more guides, tips and tricks in Tableau or Alteryx? Go check out the other blog posts from the Data School.

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