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Getting Started with Tableau: Advanced Topics

An introduction to data analysis and visualization using Tableau.


A dashboard is a collection of several views, letting you compare a variety of data simultaneously. Like worksheets, you access dashboards from tabs at the bottom of a workbook. Data in sheets and dashboards is connected; when you modify a sheet, any dashboards containing it change, and vice versa. Both sheets and dashboards update with the latest available data from the data source.

 To make a dashboard, you will need to have at least two sheets. To get started, create a new dashboard by clicking the middle icon (of four squares) in the bottom toolbar, where you create new sheets. This will bring up this window:

More information about dashboards can be found here.

Combining Data Sources

The ability to combine different data sources can be key, especially when you are dealing with discrete files rather than a database. You can use Unions to combine multiple tabs from a spreadsheet into one file to then visualize; or use Joins to combine tables (from the same database or different databases); or use Blends when a) you want to combine data from two databases that do not support cross-database joins and b) your data is at different levels of detail.

For detailed instructions:

Options for Exporting

Exporting to Tableau Public:

In order to make your visualization web-accessible, you will need to create a Tableau account and publish to Tableau's site. From there, you can embed your visualizations in other web pages. To begin this process, select Save to Tableau Public As... from the File menu. You will be prompted to begin the process of creating an account, logging in, and publishing to the web.


Exporting from Tableau Desktop:

With Tableau Desktop there are several more options for saving and exporting your work. 


Saving Privately to Tableau Public

With Tableau Public, there is no option to save your visualizations publicly. They must be published to the Tableau Public website. This video shows how to publish your work and keep it hidden from public view.

Customizing Your Visualizations

It is worth the time to learn how to customize and format your visualizations to create visually pleasing projects that focus the user's attention. Options to adjust include fonts, shading, alignment, borders, and graph lines. Color and size are particularly important to get right. You can format elements using the Marks card or the Formatting  menu. More information about formatting your work can be found here

Here are a few simple tips for customizing your visualizations.

Creating a title:


The default title for a visualization is "Sheet n," where is the number of sheets you have created. You can change this by double clicking on the sheet title, and changing the name.

Delete "<Sheet Name>" and enter your desired title. You can also change the font of your title in this window by changing the options at the top of the window.

Colors and Fonts:

You can change the colors and fonts in the charts themselves. There several ways to do this. First, you can click on the "Color" box in the "Marks" field on the left side of the screen.

Click a new color to change the color of the bars in your chart.

If you want each value to have its own color, drag and drop your value names onto the same "Color" box. This will automatically give each value its own color. As an example, if you drag and drop "Result 1" onto "Color," Tableau will assign a color to each award result: nomination, pending, and all other values will have their own color.

To customize other fields, you can select "Format" in the toolbar and choose from the options available.



Calculations allow you to create new data from data that already exists in your data source, as well as perform computations on your data. This allows you to perform complex analyzes and add fields to your data source on your own and on the fly.

 You can use calculations for many, many reasons. Some examples might include:

  • To segment data
  • To convert the data type of a field, such as converting a string to a date.
  • To aggregate data
  • To filter results
  • To calculate ratios

More information on creating calculations can be found here.