Data Viz Done Right

April 8, 2016

Abortion Regulations - State by State | Hexmaps in Tableau

Click the image to interact

Hexmaps…I’ve seen so many great examples of them created in Tableau (and other tools) like this one from Matt Chambers, this one from Ben Moss or this one from Kris Ericsson. Then I saw an article on the Washington Post about abortion regulations that included this series of tile maps...

Click the image to go to the original

…and thought this would look much better a series of hexmaps. In addition, I’d never created one before and I wanted to learn how. Fortunately Matt Chambers wrote a blog post for how to create them. I downloaded his workbook, copied the data into Excel, and add the columns I needed. I’ve saved an Excel template you can download here and all you need to do is add the columns you want to use on the color shelf in Tableau.

For my version, I wanted to create a small multiples view with a matrix that shows all states and their regulations in a table you can click to highlight. Special thanks to Robin Kennedy and Matt Chambers for their feedback!!

Two vizzes in one day, two new techniques learned. I’ll chalk it up as a fabulous day!


  1. It looks neat, for sure, but the tooltips on the maps seem kinda odd. I mean, in that I expect to receive *some* kind of tip for each mark on the map, yet only the "insurance coverage = Y" colored hexes yield info. Is it just my browser...?

    1. You're not missing anything. That's the extent of the source data.

  2. I really like the hex maps! It has a lot of the aesthetic value of a filled map without the problem of large geographical areas overwhelming small ones. The one thing that is really bugging me is how the tool tips behave and how difficult it is to hover over some states. For example, it seems almost impossible to hover over Oklahoma or Colorado in the first map (while it is easier in the second). What's causing this behavior? Is that just me?

    1. Thanks Joshua! I'm not sure why you'd have more trouble on one map vs another. Must be the sizing, which is a royal pain to get just right.

      This is also why I added the matrix at the bottom. You can click on the state and it'll highlight in all of the maps.

    2. I see what you mean now Joshua. On Desktop it works perfectly, so clearly this is a rendering issue on Tableau Public. I'll send in a bug.