Data Viz Done Right

February 28, 2017

Tableau Tip Tuesday: Table Calculations Overview

16 comments
Table calcs - the beast of all things Tableau...for me at least! It's been nearly 10 years that I've been using Tableau and it wasn't until I was teaching last week that the light bulb went off.

I promised a blog post and here it is. I've recorded about a 30 minute video where I have two primary objectives:

  1. Provide recommendations for how to approach table calcs
  2. Teach you how to read table calcs in a plain English sentence

Here are two slides I created to help you read table calcs:



The trick is to read from the bottom up.

  1. Start with the unchecked boxes and add the words "For each" before those. 
  2. Move to the Calculation type and add the words "compute the" before the item in the Calculation Type box. 
  3. Add the word "by" before each box that is checked at the bottom, again reading it from bottom to top.

I hope you find this helpful and that it makes table calculations easier for you to understand. Please let me know if this helps.

16 comments :

  1. Andy this is super helpful! Like you in the past I've basically used trial and error to get table calcs to work as needed. This will help save a bunch of time!

    One question: I've noticed that in the "Specific Dimensions" box you can reorder the fields. Do you know how re-ordering will impact the table calc? For example, if you reversed product category and product sub-category, does that matter?

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    1. Hi Jonathan. Thanks for the question! Reordering the unchecked boxes will not impact the table calc. However, if you reorder the checked boxes, the table calc WILL change. The best way to see that is action is in a table. For example, if you have Year and Region both checked and region is below year, then you would read that as "by Region by Year". If you put Region above year, you would then read it as "by Year by Region".

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  2. Thanks Andy, this is definitely helpful, still struggle with Table Calcs. Would be happy to see further post on some advance calcs options being discussed

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    1. Do you have any example you'd like me to review?

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  3. An example about year over year type calculations would be terrific.

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    1. You read it the same way. The difference is the middle part where you change the "calculate..."

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  4. #mindblown

    I was just thinking about table calcs the other day and discouraged how after 3 years of using Tableau, I still find myself clicking random combinations of table calculation ordering/assignments until I get what I'm looking for. Your explanation here makes so much sense. Thank you for sharing!!

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  5. Thanks for posting this, Andy. I found it really helpful, and I feel like I'm ready to brave Table Calcs now.

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  6. Super post Andy... Really helpful insight in understanding the table calculations.

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  7. Lovely. So lovely in fact that it would be awesome if Tableau could add this as a caption to the same Table Calc box that would update with your selections. I know a lot of work has been done to visually show the changes in the view, but the human explanation of what's going on also goes a long way to help people form the mental model needed to really take command of table calcs.

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  8. Tableau in English sentence makes a lot easier to understand. Thanks Andy.

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  9. Thank you for posting this, Andy. This will help me to understand my work and to whoever I need to explain the fucntion to much easier.

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  10. Hi Andy,

    Finally understood the table calculations :) thanks a lot for the video and the explanation.

    Its really helpful.

    Regards

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  11. Thanks for posting such a clear explanation Andy! Incredibly helpful to clarify what's going on in the Table Calcs window.

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