Image by Janjf93 from Pixabay

Ever wondered what the automatically generated fields Measure Names and Measure Values mean in Tableau? Or not sure how to use them? If the answer is yes, and their appearance or usage confused you, keep reading for a short guide on this simple but useful feature.

Example viz Using Measure Names and Measure Values

We can use the classic superstore dataset in this illustrative example. Drag Sales onto rows and Order Date onto columns in continuous month form. Don’t forget to right click and drag Order Date to allow choice of date form. Then drag Profit onto the axis until two cylinders appear:

The not-so-obvious way to blend axes.

Tableau calls this axis blending. Sales and Profit are now shown on the same axis, and measure names are automatically added to filters and colour on the marks pane. Measure values (itself a measure) is now on rows instead of Sales, and there is a new pane listing the measure values.

Measure Values Pane

This is very useful for comparing measures on the same scale. Keep in mind, however, that it is not always good practice to do this. Only related measures that can meaningfully compared should be on the same axis.

Adding more measures

Now that the Measure Values pane has appeared and measure values is on filters we can add more measures to the viz. The first way is to simply drag other measures onto the Measure Values pane. Alternatively, show the Measure Names filter and select desired measures. I have demonstrated this by adding Quantity and Discount, although in practice I wouldn’t want to sum the discount percentages.

Using Measure Names and Values from the Data Pane

The other way to achieve the same result is to use the automatically generated Measure Names and Measure Values on the data pane. To do this, simply drag Measure Values onto rows and Measure Names onto colour. From there, remove measures you do not want displayed in the viz from the Measure Values pane (you can use shift or ctrl+click to remove multiple measures):

This works fine, and it is a good alternative if you forget the previous method. However, it can be annoying and time consuming to sort through and remove measures.

Closing Remarks

I hope this example clarified the usage of measure names and measure values in Tableau. During my training I repeatedly forgot how to blend axes and had to ask my colleagues multiple times how to do this. For that reason I wanted to share this fairly simple tip in a blog form. Personally when learning new tools I find that it is often idiosyncratic features such as this that are the hardest to remember. That goes to show that it is normal to feel a bit out of depth or to forget simple things when learning new tools and software.

The Data School
Author: The Data School