Friday, December 11, 2015

Cell Level Formatting in Tableau

I have to start this post be saying 'Please dont treat Tableau like Excel'.  They are different tools designed for different purposes.  Excel is a spreadsheet-making tool.  Tableau is a data visualization tool.  If this is your only use case for Tableau then you are doing it wrong.  This technique should be used only when absolutely necessary.

Cell-level formatting is a challenge in Tableau because whenever you introduce more than one measure into a text table you need to use the Measure Names and Measure Values fields.  They are like 'bucket' fields that contain all of your measures in one.  If you are confused by these read this KB article.

The problem with that is you only get one Marks card for Measure Values, which means only one Color shelf, so you cannot add a different field on Color for each of the Measures you are including (they will all get colored by one Field).

So what do we have in our bag of Tableau tricks to get us multiple Marks cards?  Add more measures to the Rows or Columns!  Each measure you add to Rows or Columns creates an axis, and in turn each axis gets its own Marks card.

We will use this to our advantage by creating an axis of '1' for each column we want to have.  You can use the Number Of Records field, or you can create a new Calculated Field and just stick '1' into it:

Use the MIN of this field and add as many of them to the Columns as you need for your view (1 field = 1 measure/column).

Then change the mark types to Text.

Then choose the Marks card label for the first MIN(One) and add your measure to both Text and Color.  Repeat for each measure you want to have a column for.

Now we just need to tidy things up.  You can make the columns skinnier by just adjusting the line that separates the axes on the bottom, and then right-click on an axis (or one of the measures on Rows) and uncheck 'Show Header'.

Now you might be thinking 'What about the Labels..?!' this is where we use a dashboard and some floating text objects to label each column for us.  Drag in a Text object, make it 'floating', and then drag and dop exactly where you want it to go.  Rinse and repeat for each label.

Tip:  use the area in the lower left to adjust the pixel values for  'y' and 'h' to align them all perfectly.
Tip 2:  use a fixed-size dashboard so your labels always stay exactly where you placed them.  If you use Automatic sizing, then the relative placement of your fixed and floating objects will change and you label placement will get messed up.

Booyah.  Cell level formatting in Tableau.

Note:  In this example I use Text for all mark types and I color each column.  There is nothing stopping you from making some columns Shapes or Highlight Boxes (using the Bar mark type) or not coloring some columns at all (I will include an example in the workbook you can download).  This is example just shows the framework which you can extend upon.


-The Don

Special call out to the O.G. Scott Wasserman for figuring out this genius use of multiple mark cards when tableau introduced Dual-Axis charts way back in the day.  Floating objects in dashboards further simplified the original workaround which required far more steps to get labels for the columns.  Maybe some day we will be able to use Measure Names and Measure Values in calculated fields and this workaround wont be needed anymore, but until then, use it but dont abuse it.


  1. Just wish to say your article is as surprising.

    The clarity to your post is simply great and that i could
    suppose you’re a professional on this subject.
    Well with your permission let me to clutch your feed to stay up to date with approaching post.

    Thank you a million and please continue the rewarding
    Tableau Guru

  2. Hi there! I've seen this 'hack' several times, either using MIN or ATTR. But what I just can't manage to do is to format the alignment of the data in the cells. For example, I would like to have all numbers right-aligned, just as in the regular text table. But none of the various formatting options seem to do the trick. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

  3. I really appreciate information shared above. It’s of great help. If someone want to learn Online (Virtual) instructor lead live training in Tableau.
    MaxMunus Offer World Class Virtual Instructor led training on Tableau. We have industry expert trainer. We provide Training Material and Software Support. MaxMunus has successfully conducted 100000+ trainings in India, USA, UK, Australlia, Switzerland, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, Bahrain and UAE etc.
    For Demo Contact us.
    Nitesh Kumar
    Skype id: nitesh_maxmunus
    Ph:(+91) 8553912023

  4. Great Article. its is very very helpful for all of us and I never get bored while reading your article because, they are becomes a more and more interesting from the starting lines until the end.

    Tableau online training

  5. How do I color the word "Bookcases"

  6. nice blog thank you for sharing

  7. Wow. great job! It’s amazing, thank you so much for gathering all this information in one post with clear explanation, it’s very clever and will be extremely helpful for all people who use Tableau. Visit here the information Regarding How to Use Date Field in Tableau

  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

  9. For such kind of information, be always in contact with us through our blogs. To locate the reliable way to obtain assist to create customer checklist in QB desktop, QuickBooks online and intuit online payroll? Our QuickBooks Payroll Support Phone Number service may help you better.


  10. If you need the help or even the information about it, our company has arrived now to do business with you with complete guidance combined with demo. Connect to us anytime anywhere. Only just contact us at QuickBooks Payroll Tech Support Phone Number .

  11. This becomes one of several primary known reasons for poor cashflow management in large amount of businesses. It's going to be enough time for QuickBooks Support Number The traders can’t make money. But, we have been here to aid a forecast.

  12. “Just dial our QuickBooks Desktop Payroll Support Phone Number to inquire of about for Quickbooks Payroll customer care to get rid of payroll issues. We take advantage of startups to small-scale, medium-sized to multinational companies.”

  13. Yes, our QuickBooks EnterprIse Technical Support Number could be a magic pill to solve any QuickBooks Enterprise tech issue. Our QuickBooks Enterprise Support team is comprised of QuickBooks Experts who can solve your problems instantly the moment they get a call on QuickBooks Enterprise number.

  14. Getting instant and effective help for any matter of concern is what the user’s desire for. With QuickBooks, you can rest assured about getting the most desirable and efficacious help on every issue that you might encounter yourself with. You just need to avail the help from the technical experts by dialing the Intuit QuickBooks Support.

  15. But dialing our QuickBooks phone number can help you to gid rid of QuickBooks errors. Our QuickBooks support has been much loved and admired by almost all of the QuickBooks users. Issues related to payroll may take a bit more time and energy to get resolved by our QuickBooks Payroll Service Phone Number team in comparison with all of those other support providers, but will certainly offer you the very best of the QuickBooks support services.

  16. The team comprises of a bunch of professionals who are highly knowledgeable and possess problem-solving skills to deal with any kind of glitches, bugs or errors that are hindering QuickBooks Support Number performance in the first place.

  17. Our dedicated team is sure with you. These are typically surely working at any hour to assist and make suggestions if you run into any QuickBooks Support Phone Number error/s. Our QuickBooks Support team surely have in-depth knowledge regarding the issues and complications of QuickBooks.

  18. QuickBooks Enterprise Support Number is tailored for your business specifically. It has all those features that are needed individually for different type of industries.
    It enables you to track your inventory.

  19. QuickBooks Support Phone Number take good care of our customers and bend towards backward to please them with our exuberant performance. All this is done without compromising with all the quality of services because nothing seems good in the event that work is not done.

  20. IMMEDIATE HELP AT QuickBooks Support Phone Number
    In today’s scenario men and women have got really busy inside their lives and work. They want to grow and learn as much new things as they possibly can. This drive has initiated a sense of awareness amongst individuals and thus they find approaches to invent options for daily tasks. If you should be a business owner, you truly must be aware of the fact Payroll calculation does demands lot of some time man force. Then came into existence QuickBooks Payroll and Quickbooks Payroll customer care contact number team.

  21. invests good sum of money on the QuickBooks Tech Support Number software to be sure data accuracy, timely delivery of information so they will be able to concentrate on his or her workfare to improve the productivity and therefore increased business.