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How do I build an Area Chart in Tableau?

The Information Lab Ireland is the leading provider of Tableau and Alteryx training in Ireland. Last time out we looked at creating Highlight Tables in Tableau. This week we are sticking with our chart types and we want to show you how to quickly build an Area Chart. We are going to split this into two posts and examine various issues around when this type of chart is useful and how you can improve visually.

How do I build an Area Chart in Tableau?

In this chart we are going to look at Sales across the years 2015 – 2019 and see how they compare across three items categories in our fictitious Super Store data.

We start off by bringing our Measure SUM[Sales] onto the Rows Shelf followed by our Dimension YEAR(Ship Date) on to the Columns Shelf. This automatically produces a line graph which already shows us the ups and downs of overall sales over five years.

Area chart in Tableau

We now want to see the breakdown of those totals across our three categories. To do this, we simply bring our Dimension Category on to Colour on our Marks Card where we see that this now splits the Sales by Category giving you three lines of three different colours. We then change the Mark Type to Area Chart from the drop down.

area chart in Tableau

It is worth noting that the totals on the Sales Axis now change from the three individual totals to a cumulative total. This allows you to view the relationship of part to whole and shows variations (ups and downs) across categories over time. That said, this can be problematic for a few reasons but there are ways around this that we will examine in our next post.

Finally, in order to get the most from the view, you will need to switch from Standard View to Entire View. Next week, we will show you a few ways of enhancing this type of chart to get more from it.

area chart in Tableau

Who/What is…?

The Information Lab Ireland

The Information Lab (“TIL”) is a Gold resale partner of Tableau and Alteryx and offers related consulting and training across seven territories in Europe. TIL has offices in Ireland, the UK, Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.

Clients include Coca-Cola, Close Bros Bank, PepsiCo, Deloitte, UBS, Solar Turbines & Boston Consulting Group. The Information Lab has worked with Close Brothers Bank to support their use of Alteryx for compliance with IFRS 9.

The Information Lab Ireland is at the forefront of creating a data-driven culture in Ireland. As part of its vision, The Information Lab Ireland regularly hosts free events throughout the country to show how being data-driven can improve decision making and lead to a better understanding of the world around us.

For more on these events please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter


Tableau is the gold standard for intuitive, interactive visual analytics and an established enterprise platform. Over 54,000 customers have adopted Tableau to answer more questions of their data.

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