Ten Tips Plus My Favorite Tip of All Time

Four years ago, Jeff Shaffer posted volume 1 of his Ten Tableau Tips series.  To date, he has posted 15 volumes, 150 tips total.  More recently, Jeff started posted a tip per day on Twitter and LinkedIn.  His first tip was posted on March 2 and as of Aug 6, he has posted 114 different tips (this viz tracks all of them as well as links to the tips themselves). 

Jeff’s Tableau Tips blog posts have long been some of my favorites.  It is great to see his perspective, but since I work with him, it is also interesting to see his surprise when we don’t know about one of them.  And that’s the cool thing about Tableau…there are a lot of ways to do a lot of things and most of us probably don’t know half of them (except for Jeff, I’m convinced he knows all of them J). 

So, I’ve decided to provide my very first volume of Tableau Tips.  I’m sure you’ll know a ton of these, but my hope is that you get at least one little nugget of wisdom. 

1.     Auto-Populate a List Parameter

If you want to create a list parameter from a field, you don’t need to create a parameter then fill it in with a list of values.  All you have to do is right-click on that field, choose Create à Parameter and it will automatically create a list parameter populated with the values from that field.

2. Adjust Tooltips without Leaving the Dashboard

You don't need to leave the dashboard and go to each individual sheet to adjust a tooltip.  Just select the sheet on the dashboard, go to Worksheet à Tooltip and make your adjustments.  This is really convenient for quick changes.

3. Hide All Sheets Tied to a Specific Dashboard

This might be obvious to a lot of people, but I didn't know about it until about 3 months ago.  If you want to hide all sheets that are on a dashboard, simply right-click on the dashboard and choose Hide All Sheets.  

4. Use an Annotation for Drawing Lines in a Chart

One method for drawing a line on a dashboard is to use a thin text box.  The problem with that is it can only be vertical or horizontal and you lose flexibility.  For static charts, I often like to use an annotation and simply remove the annotation box.  These are nice because it allows you to draw a line in an actual worksheet and that line can be in any direction you like (not just vertical or horizontal).  Please note, that it is difficult to get it to change dynamically and it may appear different in your dashboard than it does in the worksheet.

To do this, right-click and choose Annotate à Point.  Remove all text from the annotation box, position the line as you like, change the shading to none and format the line as you like. 

5. Don’t Use the Polygon Mark to Remove the ABC in a Table

I often create tables that don’t have anything on the Text/Label card.  In that case, “ABC” will show as its own column.  I learned early on (from Jeff Shaffer) that you can change the mark type to a polygon and this ABC will disappear.  In fact, I used this in a Tip Battle at TC18.

However, this is now a problem because polygon mark types cannot be animated when published.  In fact, I used this polygon technique on a dashboard with several sheets and every single sheet lost its animation.  It was all caused by this one little polygon mark type. 

As a habit, I no longer use this technique.  Instead, I simply put ‘ ‘ onto the text card.  This has the same effect, but you will be able to utilize animations in your dashboard.

6. Create a Header for a Single Measure using Measure Names / Values

When you build a crosstab using pills on Rows, each column has a header.  However, when you place a measure on the Text card, that measure does not have a header.  You can correct this using Measure Names & Values. 

Replace the value on the text card (in my case, Sales) with Measure Values.  Place Measure Names on the filter shelf.  Edit that filter to show only your single measure (in my case, Sales).  Now press CTRL and drag (copy) Measure Names onto Rows.

7. Press T on the Dashboard to Toggle between Dashboard and Layout

I learned a tip from Vince Baumel that when you are on a dashboard, you can simply press the G key (nothing else) and it will show grid lines (bonus tip).  This is super useful.  Similarly, you can press the T key to toggle the Dashboard and Layout tabs while on a dashboard.  This is probably not quite as useful, but I'm sharing it anyway :)

8. Create a Dual Axis Chart on the Axis Itself then Quickly Synchronize

Instead of creating a dual axis from the pill itself, you can actually create a dual axis from the axis.  I like this technique because I can make it a dual axis then quickly synchronize all from the axis itself (this would be a nice way to trim off a few seconds in IronViz). 

9 Use this Unicode Character to Provide Padding on a Labels

Sometimes you need a little padding on your labels.  If you try to use spaces, more often then not, they don’t work (sometimes they do, but rarely, and I can’t quite figure out the reason they sometimes do or do not).  I’ve also seen people add an underscore and make it the same color of their background.  The problem with this if you want your labels to match the mark colors or if you have grid lines.

 At work, we tried to replicate a space with a number of Unicode characters and Alt Codes, but couldn’t find one.  I mentioned it to Ken, and of course, he found one on the first try.  So if you need a little spacing, just copy and paste this Unicode Character (U+2800) into your label, size it and it will pad out your label.  You can add several of these characters for more padding or you can simply change the font size for small adjustments.  You can use this to pad the beginning or end of a label or you can add padding above or below.  I will tell you, I pretty much use this in every single viz.

10 My Favorite Tip of All Time – Easily Remove Default Highlighting

My favorite tip of all time is something I use multiple times in every single viz, but I did not come up with it.  This tip comes from Brian Moore and it is all about removing the default highlighting in Tableau.  If you don’t know this trick, I really recommend you do yourself a favor and check out "The Highlight Technique" on his website.

Okay, that's it for my ten tips.  I hope you didn't know at least one of them :)  As always, feel free to reach out any time with comments or questions.  Thanks for reading!

Kevin Flerlage, August 10, 2020


  1. Many thanks for your tips.
    I put some of them on my tableau desktop cheat sheet, a google spreadsheet that has three columns. Problem (short description with keywords), solution describing the solution even calcs if there are some involved and link/remark - some already pointing to your wonderful blog. I started it because I often faced a problem I already solved but could not find the solution again. It is easy to share and to build a tableau dashboard for fast discovery based on it.

  2. Crazy insane tips. Love the annotation and the T & G command. You guys Rock! Thank you.

  3. I am new to your website but I am here to learn and have fun while doing it. You're posts does that exactly. Loved all of those tips. Great work!

  4. Thanks a ton for these tips Kevin. I enjoyed every bit of it.

  5. Hi Kevin,

    since I am taking so much from you guys, I thought maybe I have something in return.
    One tipp I would like to share is based on what I got from Heidi Kalbe (queenofdata) where she highlights that you can rename ad-hoc calcs by inserting " //Desription " and then use shift + enter to break the calc.

    Now I noticed you can also apply this to dimensions which is something I haven't read about anywhere else (not saying I have read each and every tip for Tableau on the web but I have read the better part of it).

    If you are like me and like to have you dimensions be "technically named" this tipp might be for you. Sure, there is the option to also use aliasing but aliases are "forever" whereas using this tipp allows to only "rename" the dimension on the specific sheet.

    So for example putting "streetname_nr" dimension on the sheet, especially if you are creating tables would not be a great user experience.
    Aliasing of course is an option but as said, you might not want "streetname_nr" to be named "Address" or something to that effect everywhere.

    So you might want to put the dimension on the rows/columns and add


    Let me know if you knew about it.




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