Colour is a very powerful tool when it comes making effective visualisations. I mean there is a body of research that consist of colour theory and how people behave and interact with certain things based purely on the colour. Tableau has a range of colour palettes that are already inbuilt. However, they can become somewhat useless when you want a specific palette that matches the clients. More often than not, clients tend to have their own design/style guide that you need to stick to and getting the colour correct and consistent is very important. And this is where you can make your own custom colour match that matched your clients.

Choosing a colour from other reference points

First thing is to get the information about the design from the client. There will be situation where they simply give you a logo but no colours. In this instance you can use Tableau’s inbuilt colour picker. You can access this option from the ‘Color’ mark, then ‘More colors…’ and finally ‘Pick Screen Colour’, like so:

This allows you to have the logo or any reference image with the desired colours and grab the RGB code for the colour.

Making your own reusable colour palette

Another option is to add the colour palette directly into Tableau. This can be achieved by navigating to, Documents (or wherever your ‘My Tableau Repository’ is located) > My Tableau Repository > Preferences.tps, its the ‘.tps’ file that you wan to modify. You can open the file in a text editor like Notepad, Notepad++ or my choice Sublime. Sublime just has nice colours and easier to see what you are formatting. Once its opened, it will look something like this (will vary depending on the text editor):

You will have an open and close ‘preferences’ tag, and you want to add you colour palette inside the ‘preferences’ tag. The correct format is as follows:


<color-palette name=[PICK A NAME FOR THE PALETTE] type=”regular”>





Then save, and restart Tableau. You can add as many colours in your palette and as many palettes as you want as well.

So, today we looked at how you can add your colour palettes, and pick specific colours that you want from other images.

The Data School
Author: The Data School