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May 15, 2012

Tableau Tip: Create a beautiful heat map in under 30 seconds


This tip is a follow up to my post about asking How common is your birthday?.  In this post, I created a heat map and Matt Stiles asked me if I could write a tutorial showing how I did it so quickly in Tableau.

The steps are for creating the viz only.  I’m assuming you already connected to the data.

Step 1 – Hold the CTRL key and click the Day, Month and Rank fields (they should all be highlighted after you choose them)


Step 2 – Open the Show Me window on the toolbar and click on the Highlight Table option


You should see the view below with Days in the columns and Months in the rows.


Step 3 – Click on the swap icon to place Day on the row shelf and the Month on the column shelf


Step 4 – Right click on the Month column label and choose Hide Field Labels for Columns


Step 5 – Drag the Rank measure off of the Label shelf


You should now this view.


Step 6 – Double click the color shelf to show the Edit Colors window.  Choose Orange from the Pallet list and the Reversed option, then click OK.


You need to choose the reverse option if you want the highest ranking days to be the darkest.  You final view should look like this.


That’s it!  Six steps, less than 30 seconds, and you have a beautiful heat map. 

Give it a shot.

  • Get the data here
  • See my final viz (including interactivity) here


  1. How these heat maps are created ? Is there any specialized tool or software available for monitoring the performance of a website ? Thanks for this useful information about heat maps.