How to create Step Area Charts in Tableau?

by Sijia Wei

A step area chart tells you the increase and decrease of sales compared to the previous months. For each month, the step line connects the previous sales with the current.

Step 1: You need a calculated field for the sum of sales of the current month

Step 2: You need a calculated field for the sum of sales of the previous month

The lookup function will bring back the value from the previous time period in the view (in this case, month)

Step 3: Put the two calculated field on Rows, combined axis

Step 4: Remove Measure Names from the colour shelf, make it a Line graph

You can also change it to an Area chart

The advantage of using a step area chart is you can easily highlight the variance of sales over month.

Step 1: Put the sales value of current month on Rows, make it a Gantt Bar

Step 2: Create a calculated field for Month over Month change

Step 3: Put the negative value MoM change on the Size shelf, make the bars thinner

Now if you Dual axis and give the Gantt Bars another colour, you would be able to see the biggest change over month. One good example from a Workout Wednesday is you can colour code the biggest increase and decrease of each category.

Create a calculated field and put it on the colour shelf

This is the basic idea of how to build a step area chart and when to use it, you can add some labels and clean up the grid lines to make the chart more appealing.