Jim Dehner 

 Tableau Visionary and Ambassador

Tableau How to’s,  Use Cases, and Forums Questions

Hey #DataFam

Let’s Talk

Finally,  we get to make some charts – for your first chart start with “Show Me”  from the upper right corner of the screen.  

Select a Dimension and a Measure and click on Show Me.  


See the video Link to Charts and Basic Calcs



A widow open and table shows the common chart types that can be made from the dimension and measure – the “recommended” chart is enclosed in a border.





Congrats you made your first chart!!  So let’s take a moment and look at what has been returned





On the Columns shelf, there is a Green “Pill”  for sum(Sales) and on the Row Shelf there is a Blue pill for Category.  In the body of the view – the canvas or viz – is a horizontal bar chart.  



Why the Blue and Green pills – what’s the difference? 



Green pills are continuous and create an axis when they are placed on a shelf



Blue pills are discrete and create categories when placed on shelfs –


So what does that mean that Green Pills are Measures and Blue pills are dimensions – NO! –  


Each can be either continuous or discrete based on how you choose to use them.  Lets see how that works

Here Dates are a discrete field and the chart is broken in discrete Years – and then by quarter –



The same date field can be converted to Continuous and now all the years are joined into a continuous line



Measures like Sales, can be combined into discrete bins while Customer Names can be counted to become a continuous field – so you, as the designer need to decide how the field will be aggregated and displayed.



OK, got it Discrete – Blue – Continuous Green – 


What type of chart is best in each situation? – Lots of different points-of-view on this but when in doubt I recommend turning to Andy Kriebel’s Visual Dictionary Link to Andy's Visual Dictionary


Lets look at some of the more frequently used types: 


Place a Discrete dimension on columns, a continuous measure on rows to create the bars. Adding a dimension to color breaks the bar into segments

Stacked Bar charts –



Multiple Trend lines



Place a continuous or discrete dimension on columns, a continuous measure on rows and add a dimension to color to break out the multiple lines – Chart type is Line

Scatter Plots



Scatter Plots compare 2 measures – place on Rows and the other on Columns then add a dimension to the marks card – here color – to break out the individual points


Tree Chart


Tree charts present the portion of a dimension(s) to the whole.  There is nothing on Rows or Columns just place the dimension(s) directly on the marks card and the measure (here Sales) you want on Size





Everyone loves to do mapping and it is so easy.  Just drag any GEO field (those are the ones with the globe icon) to the canvas and you create a map – add a measure like sales for state-to-state comparison)


Mapping can be an exhaustive topic and one of the best blog posts on it can be found at Don Wise's post: Link to Don's Mapping Basics  – 



We could go further but the best way to learn about different chart types it to make some up and practice – you will soon develop your own faves!