How to Create Performance Indicator Titles in Tableau

A Minimalist Dashboard Element to Communicate Period Over Period Changes

See how to streamline a period over period comparison callout to create titles that immediately convey positive or negative changes for dashboard KPIs. This element communicates descriptive insights at a glance to provide a starting point for an analysis.

Hi. This is Ryan with Playfair Data TV, and in this video, I’m going to be sharing a dashboard element that I call Performance Indicator Titles. By the end of this video, you’ll be able to make headers that look similar to the visualization being shown on the screen right now.

This visualization is from my Tableau Public portfolio, and it’s called My US Stock Portfolio. Notice that each widget for each of the stock symbols has a little bit of text and a spark line, but they all have a similar header that is going to be color-coded based on whether I gained or lost money on that investment. And those automatically get colored based on that positive or negative change.

It’s very similar to one of my favorite dashboard elements, and there’s a video here at Playfair Data TV to explain that one to you. It’s called the Current Versus Comparison Index Callout. it’s very similar to that, but it’s even more minimalist. We’re just kind of streamlining some of that information so that you can look at this at a glance and know which areas are up or down. We’ve also embedded the header text right within that visual cue that something should be paid attention to.

This involves just three elements. I had to create some type of scenario for you. So before the video, I created a Current Sales and Prior Sales calculated fields. I’ll show you under the hood just to show you what we’re looking at. You would obviously replace these with whatever comparisons you are using.

But I’ve just said that if the month is May, then show Sales. So we’re pretending that the current month is May. We’re going to isolate sales for just the month of May.

For the comparison period, I’m using April. So similar formula. Again, you’ll replace this with whatever your comparison is.

The formula that is needed to actually make this index header work is this calculation, Current Sales minus Prior Sales. It’s that simple. We’re not doing any type of index calculation, we’re not doing percent change. We just want to know is that number going to be positive or negative, because we will eventually color positive numbers one thing, negative numbers something else. So that’s the entire formula.

To actually create the element, it’s very simple. You change the mark type from the Automatic, which is Text by default, to Square. You don’t see anything show up until you actually add something to the view. So I’m going to add that sales change, positive or negative calculation, to the Color Marks Card. And then we should see a square show up.

You can then adjust this square or rectangle to be whatever size or dimensions that you would like. I might make it a little bit taller and wider just so we can take a closer look at it during this video.

Notice by default, I’ve just got one color over here. That’s actually a continuous color palette, and I can modify the colors by clicking into this color legend and clicking Edit Colors. But even though it’s a continuous palette, it’s only looking at one value. So we have to manually go in here and set it up so that it works for both positive and negative scenarios.

First of all, I want to choose a diverging color palette instead of a sequential color palette. I’ll go with this orange and blue diverging. How about red and blue?

And we also want to change the steps of this view for this color range from being automatic to two. You can manually do that by just checking this box and bumping this down to two.

And then most importantly, you have to go into these advanced settings and set the center to always be zero. And that’s why that calculated field didn’t matter too much. We didn’t have to make it very complex. It doesn’t matter how much above zero or how much below zero the change was. All we need to know is is it above zero or below zero.

With these settings, any time the change was positive or above zero, you’ll see blue. Anytime the change was negative or below zero, you’ll see red. I’m going to click OK.

You don’t see anything change because it was positive, although you do see the color legend change just a little bit. To get the text on to the header– after all, this is meant to be a header or a performance indicator title– I’m going to show you a little hack that I like.

If you just double-click onto the Marks Shelf and type a quotation mark, you can type whatever text you want here. So if this is sales, I could type in the word “Sales” and then close my quote and click Enter. By default, that puts that text onto the Detail Marks Card. That’s what that icon represents. But now that it is on the Marks Shelf, I can move it to the Label Marks Card, and it shows up there as the title in this case.

I’m going to click Label and customize this just a little bit, which you can do by clicking this ellipsis. Because this is a title, I might make this a little bit bigger, maybe 12 point font, maybe bold.

I do like the white text, so I might permanently set that to be white text. And it looks like it’s a little close to the left-hand side, so I might left align it and manually add in a few spaces just so that it’s easier to read that as the title. Anytime you see the Apply button in Tableau, you can preview the change before you accept it. So if I click Apply, we should see that text look a little bit nicer. It’s bigger, bold, indented a little bit from the left-hand side.

I’m going to click OK, and that is it. That’s my performance indicator title. I can now add that wherever I want on top of a dashboard element.

Just to help illustrate that it automatically works, if I were to update my current month to June and my prior month to May, I’m hoping we get a different outcome here. I’ll click OK and it turns to red because now the June versus May sales was a negative change. And that’ll work for you automatically.

There’s now several videos here at Playfair Data TV that help explain how to isolate a current period versus a prior period. This is another application on how to visualize that change.

This has been Ryan with Playfair Data TV – thanks for watching!