Top 15 Charts in Tableau

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Tableau has proven to be a powerful data analysis and visualization tool. With easy drag-and-drop, you can immediately see your data and data manipulations. For those just starting with the software, there are amazing features to help settle in. A good example is the “Show Me” feature. This feature helps you see the available charts you can create with the dimensions and measures in your view. They type of chart you can create is determined automatically by Tableau Desktop based on the number of measures, dimensions, etc., in your view.

There are 24 charts in the “Show Me” menu, you must know when to use each one for better data analysis. This will ease your data visualization and takes out a piece of your work. Here are the 24 different types of Tableau charts:

  • Horizontal Bar Chart
  • Side-by-Side Bar Chart
  • Stacked Bar Chart
  • Circle-view
  • Side-by-Side Circle view
  • Text-Table (Crosstab)
  • Dual-line chart
  • Treemap
  • Line chart (Continuous)
  • Line chart (Discrete)
  • Heat Map
  • Highlight Table
  • Pie Chart
  • Histogram
  • Gantt Chart
  • Symbol Map
  • Filled Map
  • Area Chart (Discrete)
  • Area Chart (Continuous)
  • Dual Combination
  • Scatter Plot
  • Box-and-Whisker Plot
  • Bullet Graph
  • Packed Bubbles

In this article, I am going to walk you through what I believe to be the most widely used 15 Tableau charts and when to use them. Let’s call it the “Cheat Sheet for Tableau charts”.

Horizontal Bar Chart

This might just be the most used chart in Tableau, that’s why I’m starting with it. It visualizes data in a very easy-to-read manner. You can quickly differentiate categories with higher values from other categories. To create a horizontal bar chart in Tableau, you need 1 measure and no dimensions at the barest minimum. It’s simple, yet effective way of visualizing data has earned it a certain level of popularity amongst other bar charts.

Side-by-Side Bar Chart

This is quite similar to the ordinary bar chart. As you have probably guessed from its’ name, it is used to compare data side by side. For example, comparing the total amount of money saved by four kids in 2019, to the amount saved by the same 4 kids in 2020. A side-by-side chart in Tableau can be created with a minimum of 1 dimension and 1 measure.

Stacked Bar Chart

With a minimum of 1 dimension and 1 measure, you can create a stacked bar chart in Tableau. It is used to display data in categories that are further divided into sub-categories. The stacked bar chart shows more details than the regular bar chart discussed earlier.

Circle View

The circle view shows the different values that are within the depicted categories. You can customize your view by changing the shapes into triangles, squares, etc. The circle view works pretty great for comparative analysis. One or more dimensions and measures are required to use the circle view.

Side-by-Side Circle View

As the name implies, it is easy to guess that this chart is similar to the circle view. You can use it to compare measures in specific categories. At least 3 fields are required to use this chart.

Text-Table (Crosstab)

A text table allows you to visualize data in rows and columns, just like an Excel table. It is not a great chart for visualization, but it helps to see the data you are pulling into your view. At least 1 or more dimension and measure is required.

Line Chart (Continuous)

The continuous line chart is used to visualize changes in data over a period of time. A date value is mandatory to use the continuous line chart. 1 date, and 1 or more measures are required at the barest minimum.

Line Chart (Discrete)

Just like the continuous line chart, a date field is required to use this graph. The discrete line graph allows you to separate periods of time for further analysis. It has the same minimum requirements as the continuous line chart.

Histogram

They are very useful for analyzing and visualizing data distribution. All you need is 1 measure (bin field). Tableau divides your measure into discrete intervals/ bins.  

Heat Map

It is an effective chart for comparative analysis using colors. It is similar to the text table but uses size and color as visual tips for data visualizations. A minimum of 1 dimension and one or two measures are required to use the heat map.

Highlight Table

This is also similar to an Excel table but with colored cells. It can be likened to conditional formatting in Excel. It can be used to compare values across rows and columns. You can also customize your color scheme as you please. You can use a highlight table with 1 dimension and 1 measure.

Pie Chart

They are best used to show relationships in percentages. However, it is good to note that they are not always completely accurate in depicting data. Tableau recommends that when using a pie chart, limit the pie wedges to six. It becomes hard to interpret the pie wedges meaningfully if they are many of them. A minimum of 1 dimension and 1 or 2 measures are required.

Symbol Map

To use a symbol map, you need at least 1 geo dimension (e.g. City), and 0-2 measures. Symbol map uses a cool map view to visualize geographical data. You can apply size and color to categorize your visualization based on location. You can also use maps as a filter for other types of charts for further analysis.

Filled Map

It is similar to the symbol map, but this time colors are used instead of symbols to fill the geographical location. Just like the symbol map, a geo dimension is required. You can enhance visualization by making some colors transparent or adding borders as you please.

Packed Bubbles

This is a cool chart to look at. It is best used as a filter to drill down on additional data. The bubbles are packed together to make use of space efficiently. It requires a minimum of 1 or more dimensions and 1 or 2 measures.

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