Ten Tableau Gauge Styles


I built my first gauge chart in Tableau way back in 2017, only about a year after I started working with Tableau. Since then, I’ve created several other styles of gauges. Some of those have resulted in blog posts, while others were an attempt to address a need on the forums or a question asked of me directly. I recently looked through all these gauges and thought it would be fun to share them in a blog. So, in this blog, I’m going to share ten different gauge styles. Each is built slightly differently from the others, so providing detailed steps for the creation of all ten would create a blog so long that no one would ever want to read it (or write it, for that matter). That said, I’ve written about many of them already and I explained how to create most of the others on the forums. So, as I share each style, I’ll provide the basics of how each is created and, when available, I’ll link to the blog or forums post for further instructions.


A Brief Warning

Before I jump into these examples, I do want to acknowledge the fact that these types of charts are generally not considered data visualization best practice. They are not as easy to read as other chart types such as bar or bullet charts and they can be quite difficult to create. I addressed this topic in some detail in my blog, Alternatives to NPS Gauges in which I share some alternatives to standard gauges. I also talked about gauges in the context of data visualization best practices in a post for the Data Visualization Society’s Nightingale blog, It’s Okay to Break the Rules, Sometimes. In that post, I said the following about gauges:


Pretty much all of us agree that it’s not the most effective way to show information. Other charts, such as bullet charts, are better in almost every way. So, why is it that executives still want gauge charts? It could be that these executives simply aren’t data literate enough to know that they’re bad. But it could also be that gauges are more visually pleasing and because executives have an existing mental model that allows them to automatically understand them (if you’ve driven a car, you know how a gauge works). Sometimes, we just need to get our audience to the table, and if that means breaking a best practice or two temporarily, then it may be worth it in the long run. Over time, as our audience becomes more comfortable with data visualization techniques, we can start to guide them towards less-familiar visuals.


I think that gauges do have a time and a place and, when used carefully and sparingly, can be quite effective. I’d just ask that you use caution when using gauges in your own work.


1) NPS Gauge

The first gauge I ever created in Tableau came from a challenge from Rajeev Pandey to visual Net Promoter Score (NPS). This technique essentially hacks a donut chart to make it into a gauge with a color key. NPS is measured from -100 to 100, but this can be easily modified to measure different scales.


How To: Creating NPS Gauges in Tableau

Tableau Public Example: NPS Gauge


2) Percentage Gauge

Not long after I created the NPS gauge, I saw a Makeover Monday by Andy Kriebel where he used Highcharts to create a series of percentage gauges. That inspired me to create a technique for creating this type of chart in Tableau. The technique was quite similar to that used by the NPS chart—essentially a hacked donut chart. And like the NPS gauge, this can be modified to use different scales.


How To: Percentage Gauges in Tableau

Tableau Public Example: Percentage Gauge


3) Apple “Gather Round” Gauge

In 2018, Apple announced an iPhone event they called “Gather Round” and I particularly liked the circular marketing design they used for the event.



So, I created a gauge chart inspired by the design. Unlike my previous examples, this is a full circle gauge visualizes a measure in a clockwise manner. The technique used was essentially a sunburst with a numeric text element in the middle.


How To: A Template for Creating Sunbursts in Tableau

Tableau Public Example: Apple “Gather Round” Gauge


4) Rounded Gauge


Recently, someone on the forums asked if it was possible to create a simple gauge chart to visualize percentages. I originally shared my percentage gauge blog, but they wanted something slightly rounded. I created a solution that used trigonometry and data densification to draw an arc using a line mark. It was exactly what the OP wanted so he was thrilled, but he also couldn’t help but ask about another gauge design he had seen. I asked him to create a new post, which we’ll review in the next design.


How To: How to Create a Rounded Gauge Chart?

Tableau Public Example: Rounded Gauge


5) Rounded Gauge with Circle Point


This design is similar to the previous one but instead of a filled colored line, a simple circle/dot is used to visualize the value and the chart is a little more than a semicircle (though less than a full circle). I think the result is quite lovely. This one also uses trigonometry to draw the line (plus a shape mark for the circle).


How To: Rounded Gauge Circle Point Chart

Tableau Public Example: Rounded Gauge with Circle Point


6) Speedometer Gauge


During a car trip, my wife and I listened to an episode of her favorite podcast that discussed a documentary called “The Impostor.” A key character in the story was someone named Nancy and, throughout the podcast, they measured her on the “Nancy Scale” where Nancy Kerrigan was on one end and Nancy Grace was on the other. I got a good laugh out of it but also couldn’t help but create a visualization showing how Nancy moved along the scale throughout the episode (I tweeted it to the podcast and was quite happy that they liked it and retweeted 😊). This gauge chart used a sort of speedometer layout. The speedometer itself was a background image I created in PowerPoint. So, in Tableau, I just needed to draw the needle. I did this using some trigonometry.


How To: NA, but check out my blog on Trigonometry

Tableau Public Example: The TCO Nancy Scale


7) 3 Measure Gauge


In 2020, a forums poster asked if it were possible to visualize three metrics on a gauge. He wanted a semicircle where the full 180° represented a target and two other sections represented the progress towards the goal and the prior year, respectively. I was able to create this using data densification and trigonometry.


How To: Gauge or Donut Chart for Three Metrics

Tableau Public Example: 3 Measure Gauge


8) 3 Measure Gauge with Line


After creating the 3 Measure Gauge, I thought it might work better for the prior year to be showing using a simple line, rather than an arc, so I made a slight modification to chart.


How To: Similar to the 3 Measure Gauge (Download the workbook for specific changes to the calcs)

Tableau Public Example: Gauge Chart with Target & Prior


9) Half Donut Gauge

I’m not quite sure why, but the forums is full of people asking how to create half-donut charts. Unfortunately, these are very hard to create, even if you try to hack a pie chart. I’ve seen a few approaches, but they fall very short and are quite problematic, so in 2022, I created a reusable template for creating half donut charts. As a bonus (not included in the blog), I created a gauge-like version that includes a needle.


How To: Half Donut Chart in Tableau (Download the workbook to see how the needle was created)

Tableau Public Example: Half Donut Gauge


10) Thermostat Gauge


I saved my favorite for last! In 2022, a forums poster asked if it was possible to create a 270° gauge with a sort of arrow that points to the value (kind of like an old-fashioned thermostat). I thought the example they shared was lovely so I just couldn’t resist creating it. While visually different, it uses a very similar technique to the half donut gauge detailed earlier.


How To: Designing 270° Gauge Chart

Tableau Public Example: Thermostat Gauge


Wrap Up

I had fun reviewing all the different gauges I’ve created in the past six years, and I hope you enjoyed it as well. And maybe this will provide you with a little bit of inspiration the next time you need a gauge chart. But just remember that, more often than not, there is a better chart option available. Gauges should be used sparingly, if at all.


Thanks for reading. If you have any questions or comments, let me know in the comments section below. And feel free to check out my Tableau Public workbook that displays all ten gauges.


Ken Flerlage, September 18, 2023

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  1. Will love to see how these compare to my own! https://public.tableau.com/app/profile/shanetville/viz/GaugeChartwithTargetLine/GaugeChartWithTarget

  2. Thank you. Download is disabled on your public chart: HalfDonutChartwithNeedle. Please could you check, if could please enable allow download workbook. https://public.tableau.com/app/profile/ken.flerlage/viz/HalfDonutChartwithNeedle/HalfDonut


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