Table of contents

Format Tooltips
Use Containers to organise your dashboard
Fit to Width, Height or Fit Entire View
Float Legends
Put Filters and Parameters in a Panel
Formatting the whole Dashboard
Use Filter Actions
Add a Reset Filters button
Add an Information Icon
Who has seen your view?
Include a dashboard banner and header
Include the extract date into your dashboard
Use Viz in Tooltip
Use Pages filter
Use Captions
Create sheets with fewer marks
Hide unused fields in the data source
Use device preview
Prepare the layout for presentations
Hiding filters button

Format Tooltips

Formatting tool tips is a great way to make your dashboard more user-friendly. You can format the tooltip in many different ways and add some extra fields that are not in the visualization. Think of the tooltip as a summary of each data cell. Remove unnecessary fields to make it more concise.

Generic Tooltip

Generic Tooltip

Tooltip with adjusted styling

Tooltip with adjusted styling

Custom Tooltip

Custom tooltip

Video icon For more information refer to Basic Tooltips tutorial on Tableau Free Training Videos.

Video icon Check out Viz in Tooltip tutorial on Tableau Free Training Videos to embed visualisations within a tooltip.

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Use Containers to organise your dashboard

It is very important to stack and position objects on your dashboards in containers. When you resize one item in a container other items resize to adjust to it automatically.

You also have an option to use tiled and floating containers. Tiled container layout keeps containers in a grid without overlapping. Floating container allows items to overlap (for example, you could to Float Legends on top of the chart to save dashboard space).

For more information and tips refer to a Tableau Help article “Group items using layout containers”.

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Fit to Width, Height or Fit Entire View

After placing your worksheets in a container you may need to adjust the fit. There are three choices, fit width, fit height and fit entire view. Usually you will use fit height if you have a vertical scrollbar that you want to get rid of, fit width is for cases when you want to remove horizontal scrollbar and you will use fit entire view when you want your view without any scroll bars. If you don’t have scrollbars that means your worksheet is smaller than the container and once you fit it, the worksheet will stretch to fit the container.

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Float Legends

Legends are great to have on your dashboard but they take up valuable space. Another way to feature a legend on your chart is to find some empty space next to the corresponding worksheet and float the legend in the empty space next to it.

If you select the menu icon on the legend you can arrange the legend into a single row or single column if needed.

If the legend interferes with the background, you can make its background transparent (see “Float transparent legends, filters, highlighters, and parameters” article on Tableau Help).

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Put Filters and Parameters in a Panel

Another great use of containers in Tableau dashboard is to layout Filters and Parameters inside a tiled vertical container. Create a Filters panel that is a vertical container with quick filters and parameters stacked on top of each other. Then you can add a Textbox on top that says “Filters” and add instructions if needed.

Additionally, if applicable, you can distribute all your filters and parameters evenly in the container (use the container menu function “Distribute Evenly”).

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Formatting the whole Dashboard

You can consider changing the background color of the dashboard and worksheet titles, add a border to the titles, and maybe change the color/font of the text. To do so consistently, you can use the Format -> Dashboard… menu item.

In addition, if you select a legend, filter, highlighter or parameter and then navigate to Format menu, you can format all of the items on the dashboard at the same time. For example, select any filter on your dashboard, go to Format -> Filters… and change the font or colour. You will notice that this will have changed the font or colour of all filters on your dashboard.

Video icon Watch Dashboard Layouts and Formatting tutorial from Tableau Free Training Video for more tips on customizing and formatting aspects of the dashboard.

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Use Filter Actions

Actions are very powerful and are one of the best features in Tableau. Actions give you the ability to make a Viz into a filter and add more interactivity. Actions connect sheets on the same dashboard or even between dashboards on the same data field or value.

There are three different Dashboard Actions available:

  • Filter: a data mark on one sheet can filter the other sheet’s data if they have that mark in common (e.g., if one sheet shows data by campus, clicking on a specific campus will filter all other sheets on a dashboard to show values for that campus specifically)
  • Highlight: instead of filtering the values, clicking on a specific mark will highlight the same data in other sheets if they have the same mark as well (e.g., if two or more sheets on a dashboard show campus variable, a highlight action can be set up to highlight the values of a specific campus and dimming other values).
  • Go to URL: creates a hyperlink to webpages, files and other worksheets on the Server.
  • Go to Sheet: a new feature which can create a button to navigate to another sheet/dashboard/story within the same workbook.
  • Change Set Values: can be used if there are sets used in a dashboard. For great examples, read the Tableau blog article “8 ways to bring powerful new comparisons to viz audiences with Tableau set actions”. For more information about sets refer to Create Sets article on Tableau Help.

For more information and instructions refer to the Actions article on Tableau Help.

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Add a Reset Filters button

If you have a dashboard with multiple filters and your users find it difficult to get back to the original un-filtered view, you need a Reset Filters “button”.

The “button” is not something that comes with Tableau Desktop, but something you can derive from its Dashboard Actions functionality.

For instructions please refer to the Creating a Button to Reset All Filters in a Dashboard article in a Tableau Knowledge Base.

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Add an Information Icon

Information tooltips are easy to create and very helpful for the end user. A little sheet with a word ‘Help’ or ‘I’ icon can be placed on the header of your dashboard title or even floating on a dashboard. When a user hovers over this icon they will see the help text you provided in a tooltip. This gives you the ability to explain some elements of your dashboard that are complicated or provide some additional notes.

To create one, view the Creating Hover Text help icons video on Tableau Community.

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Who has seen your view?

If you are publishing dashboards to Tableau Server you must have wondered whether anyone you shared them with is actually viewing them. Tableau Server allows publishers to use the “Who Has Seen This View” feature to see simple view statistics.

The important thing to note is that the views history spans only 183 days back (6 months). This means that Tableau Server will be erasing all historical views stats that are four months old.

You can access this feature you navigate to a specific view (sheet within a dashboard) on the Server:

Once you click on the three ellipses icon next to the view, a menu will pop up listing the “Who Has Seen This View”. When you click on it, the following window will pop up with a list of all users who has seen the view, the last time they saw it (date & time) and how many times they have seen it:

Furthermore, if you have a long list of viewers, you can export this list into a text file for reporting purposes. To do so, click on the first Username in the list until a tooltip shows up and click on a View Data icon (top right corner of a tooltip toolbar). Once you click it, you will be shown a Summary and a Full data of all visits to your view:

Now you can navigate to Full data and download all rows as a text file.

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Include a dashboard banner and header

It is always a good idea to include some branding and trademark items into your dashboard, especially if it is being used by users outside of your team.
1. Drag a text container on top of your dashboard and put your dashboard title. Use a U of T “blue” colour for the banner and use white colour for your text. To change the background colour go to the Layout pane:
a. Banner background blue colour HTML #00204e
b. White text colour: use the default (HTML #ffffff)

2. Drag an image container to the left of the dashboard banner and add your divisional/team/UofT logo. If you are using the UofT logo provided with our Style Guide Design Assets follow these steps:
a. Since it is a transparent image, you will have to change the background of the image to blue, same as in step 1.
b. Fit and center the image through its control menu:

c. Adjust the padding in the Layout menu to zero of both the logo and text container:

d. Follow the same steps if you are adding the information icon that will link to an outside URL page

e. If you want to add an information icon with a tooltip functionality

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Include the extract date into your dashboard

If your dashboard is using a live data connection or an extract data connection which is refreshed on a set schedule, you can add a “data last refreshed” time stamp to your dashboard. This can be done in a title or in a caption. Live-file data connections can also show the last time of refresh.
For instructions, refer to the Adding Data Refresh Time Stamp to a View in a Dashboard Knowledge Base article.

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Use Viz in Tooltip

If you wish to find more detailed information in your dashboard but have no space, you can use a new Viz in Tooltip functionality in Tableau. It allows embedding a sheet view such as a table or a chart into a tooltip when you hover over a mark in your dashboard.
For more information refer to the Create Views in Tooltips (Viz in Tooltip) on Tableau Online Help.

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Use Pages filter

If your categorical data spans for multiple years or dates, you probably want to visualise its trending over time. The best way to do this would be to create a bar or line chart. However, if your categorical variable has too many categories, e.g., programs or courses, it is best to use a Pages filter.
For more information refer to the Pages shelf article on Tableau Online Help.

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Use Captions

If you want to include some contextual information about your view which changes with users’ interaction with filters and values, you can use a Caption. A caption text can be generated by default, which you can leave as is to make your dashboard more accessible. Or you can edit it and include dynamic fields such as field names, parameter values, page number, sheet name.
For more information refer to the Captions article on Tableau Online Help.

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Create sheets with fewer marks

A “mark” is a unit or each element of your visualisation, for example, each bar in your bar graph or each circle in your scattered chart. The more marks you display, the harder it is for a user to understand your visualisation. Additionally, when you have an extremely large number of marks displayed, the rendering of your visualisation can be slowed down.
A great way to validate the number of marks in your sheet is to look to the bottom left status bar of your Tableau Desktop application.

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Hide unused fields in the data source

If you are publishing a data source or a workbook with too many unused fields, this can make your content too hard to navigate or too slow to perform (especially if you are using CustomSQL queries). Additionally, you may have confidential data such as IDs or birth dates which was needed for the development and testing of your content, but now you want to remove it before publishing the workbook.
The best practice would be to remove the unused data columns from your workbook (or data source) upon creating a data extract.
1. Hide the fields in Data Pane either in a Data Source or a sheet:

2. Hide all unused fields in the Extract Data menu:

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Use device preview

Do you have or plan to have users who access your dashboards via mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets? If so, you may want to create a custom mobile dashboard layout of your dashboard or sheet. Tableau makes it easy to fit your dashboard to the most common screen sizes via the Device Preview functionality:

Here you can see how your dashboard fits to Phones, Tablets, Desktops and you can pick models for each devise type as well.
There are different things you can do with this functionality, which are described in the Create Dashboard Layouts for Different Device Types Tableau Online Help article:
Use automatic device layouts or edit the layouts
Preview and add device layouts
Customise a device layout
Optimise for phones
Publish, test and confirm the dashboard and its layout
Note: to be able to access the UofT Tableau Server from a mobile device, a user must have OpenVPN app installed and running. For more information, see this FAQ article.

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Prepare the layout for presentations

Have you ever been asked to present your dashboards in a PowerPoint format or printed in a report? Tableau has a new functionality to export a workbook to PowerPoint directly from the File menu. But to set up your view properly, you can use File -> Page Setup menu to control how the view components like titles, legends and captions appear in the PowerPoint or PDF if selected to print.
For more information refer to the Set up the page article on Tableau Online Help.

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Hiding filters button

Getting this to work is as simple as adding a floating container (the show/hide functionality only works for floating containers) to your dashboard and placing any sheets/objects in that container that you wish to hide.

Using the container menu, select Add Show/Hide Button.

A new icon will be added that controls the show/hide action. You can drag the icon anywhere on the dashboard and Tableau gives you the ability to customize it as you see fit.
Double clicking the button or selecting the edit button from the menu lets you see what customization options are available.

You can do things like change the button style to either an image or text, choose different images for when the container is visible vs. when it’s hidden, and change the border and background style and color. You can also add a tooltip that may help guide users on how to use the button.

In the end it will look something like this:

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