If you are like me, I am always forgetting how to do some of the simple things in Tableau! There are so many little tricks and tips for creating beautiful and insightful dashboards. In the journey of learning Tableau, I am always asking myself, I wonder if I can do this? Other times, I am asking myself how did I do that again? Sometimes you don’t even realise that you have been doing something the inefficient way!

That has been part of the fun of learning the tool and being around other people who are learning too. Everyone creates dashboards in different ways, and you will always pick up a cool or interesting way of doing the same thing.  Here are 5 things I always forget how to do properly that will hopefully teach you something new or remind you of an old trick.


1. Creating 3 colour stacked bar charts

This is the fastest way I’ve found to creating three colour stacked bar charts using dual-axis and measure values. Simply drag your second measure into the top part of the axis (You should see a green minus icon) to create a coloured scatter.  Drop your third measure into the same place to create a measure value pill.

Now all you have to do is change the mark type to bar chart and you have a 3 colour bar chart! Don’t forget to synchronize your axis and even change the size of the second bar to create some contrast.

You can add more measures into the measure value box, but this can get chaotic pretty quick.

2. Placing dots on a line chart

This is one of those simple tips that I had been doing the wrong way the whole time. Until recently I had been using dual-axis to create dots in every data point on a line chart. However, there is a simpler way to accomplish this! Simply open up the colour menu on a line chart and hit the middle marker for all.

3. Creating table calculation labels without changing the graph

Once you have created a table calculation using a measure, you will see a triangle icon pop up next to the measure pill.  

You will also notice that your graph has changed to fit the new calculation (in this example % of total). This new calculation can now be dragged into the measures to create a new calculated field containing the table calculation (which you can rename).

This calculated field can then be dragged back into your bar graphs to create a label for your table calculation.

4. Finding the exact colour of an image/symbol/icon

If you want your Viz to be colour coordinated to the theme of your subject material, then this tip will change your life. When selecting the colour of your borders or dashboard shading to match the colour of anything (and I mean anything), hit more colours.

From there, navigate to pick screen colour and simply click whatever colour you want to match up with. It is as easy as that!

5. Using Right-click while dragging measures and dimensions

Most of the time when you drag things on to shelves, Tableau is smart enough to assume what you want from them. However, making a habit of right-clicking and dragging will give you the full list of options. For example, right-click dragging a date will immediately give you all these options.

Although this may seem like a redundant function, making this a good habit will save you time and frustration. Sometimes things that need to be counted, are summed instead, dramatically changing your view.

There is also another benefit to continue applying this feature and manually selecting what you want Tableau to do. Taking the time to understand how to properly use each of these functions will help you be a better Tableau user in the long run.

Jason Yeo
Author: Jason Yeo