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June 18, 2010

Keeping Mark Annotations with Tableau

When I was presenting at the Atlanta Tableau User Group meeting yesterday a question came up that I wasn't able to answer. Being as determined as I am, I was scanning the Tableau forums for a solution and ran across an idea from Joe Mako that I thought would work and, eureka, it worked perfectly.

Here's the problem and the steps to solve it.

On this first screenshot below, note how the mark is annotated. Also note that Customer Segment is on the Pages shelf.

I would expect the mark to go to the same point (Feb 2008) when I go to the next Customer Segment, but it disappears. The point only displays when you are on that specific Customer Segment.

Here's how you make it work.
  1. Remove Customer Segment from the Pages shelf.
  2. Place Customer Segment in the Filters shelf and select all values.
  3. Show the Quick Filter for Customer Segment.
  4. Change the Quick Filter to a Slider.

When you annotate the mark again and scroll through the records using the Slider Quick Filter, the mark annotation remains.


  1. Two things to note when moving from the Pages shelf to the Filter shelf:

    1. You can no longer sort the slider via the drop-down menu on the pill as you can on the Pages shelf, but you can sort it by applying a default sort to the field in either the Dimensions or Measures lists.

    2. The Pages shelf forces a fixed axis range so you can make a visual comparison between each filter value, but you can set the axis as fixed by editing the axis.

    Additionally, if you want to publish to Tableau Public, and the Pages shelf is not available, the slider filter can work in its place, see: Tableau Replica of Curtis Steiner’s 1,000 Blocks

  2. Thanks for the feedback Joe. As always, your comments are incredibly helpful.