Data visualizations play a crucial role in conveying information effectively. However, adding visual cues to your visualizations can significantly enhance their interpretability. In this step-by-step guide, we will explore various methods to incorporate visual cues using upward/downward arrows and triangles, using Tableau software. By following these steps, you can easily enable users to interpret your visualizations and gain deeper insights from your data.

Step 1: Prepare the Data and Build a Comparison View

To demonstrate the process, we will utilize the “Sample Superstore” dataset. In this case, we aim to compare the sales performance of product subcategories across different years. Begin by loading the dataset into Tableau and constructing a view that showcases this comparison.


Step 2: Calculate Percent Difference

To analyze the sales trend, you can calculate the percent difference between the current year and the previous year. In Tableau, use the “Table Calculation” feature to compute this percentage. Right-click on the desired field, select “Quick Table Calculation,” and choose “Percent Difference.” This calculation will compare the performance of the current year with the previous year.

Step 4: Customize the KPI Calculation

Edit the KPI calculation to assign positive or negative change indicators based on the percent difference. If the percent difference is greater than zero, mark it as a positive change; otherwise, consider it a negative change. By using conditional statements, you can create this customized calculation.

Step 3: Add Upward/Downward Arrows as Visual Cues

To add visual cues in the form of arrows, you will duplicate the view multiple times and customize the calculations. Duplicate the percent difference calculation by right-clicking on it and selecting “Duplicate.” Rename this new field as “KPI” (Key Performance Indicator).

Step 5: Configure the View

Drag the KPI field to the “Shapes” card in Tableau to assign the arrow shapes based on the positive or negative change. Customize the shape legend by selecting the appropriate arrow shapes for positive and negative changes.

After, making slight adjustments to the table size, you will get a table where you can use as KPIs.


The Data School
Author: The Data School