Data Viz Done Right

September 16, 2011

State Polygons in Tableau – A must have, useful, simple template


I recently read a post by Albatrosa Analytics that included a map of the continental US with the states shaded.  I’ve see many people do this in the past, but the data set created by all of the points was HUGE.  Now with the polygons feature of Tableau you can easily create a shaded map.

In the viz below, I’ve used the data blending feature to combine the polygons with data by state.  I can see so many uses for this.

Download the data for creating the polygons here and the sample state data here.


  1. Andy, the odd thing that I've not considered before is that Tableau already knows all of this info, down to the zip and block level as part of the fill measures. It wouldn't seem to be much effort to expand the list to include our own measures.

    I prefer the polygon method - it's tidier than the custom shape route.

  2. I the population decline in Louisiana due to Hurricane Katrina? I bet it is.

  3. Thank you! I downloaded your Tableau vis and files and I understand how it is built but I have a question. How to get latitude and longitude of each polygon' apex?

    I am using this website to get long and lat

    Do you know any website were I could draw polygon on map and automatically receive long and lat of each apex? I would like to make a map of Russia's regions :) so I need something more effective.

  4. Can you do this at a lower level like zipcodes ?

  5. Russian Sphinx, I don't know of a site that can provide you the information you're seeking.

    Anonymous, there's a great discussion on the Tableau Forum that'll provide the answer you're looking for, plus it's a good discussion to keep handy.

    Polygon Files Structures - Solid Color Maps

  6. Hi Andy,

    Thank you for link! I asked people on Twitter and Joe sent me his tutorial

    and to make "maps a bit smaller"

    I have found GIS shape files of Russia and the CIS here

    Everything works and I recommend this tutorial to everyone :) it is very easy.

  7. I received an email today from Urban Mapping, who is apparently Tableau's mapping partner. They provided a link to lots of mapping data that should help you create lots of different boundaries.

  8. I was following Joe's tutorial and I did this map of internet in Kazakhstan

    If I had similar data for Russia, the map would be more interesting as the country is bigger but I did not have :(

    To make long story short, thanks Andy for giving the idea of polygon maps in Tableau.