For whatever reason you might want to change colour on individual bars in Tableau. This might be to highlight a month or some other metric that needs to stand out. Doing this is easy enough.
First off let’s take a look at what we are dealing with. We are going to look at SUM(Sales) across twelve months of the year. So when we drag our MONTH(Order Date) onto Columns and our SUM(Sales) onto the Rows Shelf we get this nice blue bar chart. So far so easy.
But now we want to add a bit of colour to the mix. We can just drag MONTH(Order Date) from the Columns Shelf to Colour on the Marks Card while holding CTRL and that will copy what we need. You can see that the colour has automatically gone a little crazy, giving each month a colour of its own. We don’t need this to happen. We like to keep things clean and simple on our dashboards.
In the first instance, we are going to highlight January by giving it one colour and then giving all the other months different shades of red.
Go over to the right of your sheet and from the dropdown pick Edit Colours.
This will show a pop up window and from here you can select February, then go down to December and choose it while holding Shift. This will give you all of the months you want to assign your new palette to in one go.
You can now choose a palette from the dropdown. We are going for a red in this instance.
Once you have made your choice, don’t forget to hit Assign Palette, then hit Apply to preview (always a good idea) and finally click OK.
This means you now have your month of January as one colour and the rest different shades of red.
There is an argument that shading your colour like this can lead to confusion. You can see that the bars and colours don’t really relate to performance. While December is red hot because it is the last month, it is not red hot because of its Sales. You might be better off simply choosing one colour and sticking with that rather than trying to differentiate months other than the one you want to highlight.
If we then change the order by Sales using the three line icon beside ‘Sales’ on the y axis we can see where January is in terms of performance and make that stand out on its own – which was the purpose.
Let’s try another example where we want to look at Sales by month and maybe look at the three months in winter. Go back to Edit Colours and this time choose each month you want to highlight by selecting them and holding down CTRL. Select the colour blue in this case and hit OK. In this case you wouldn’t need to Assign Palette because you are not assigning a palette just a colour (already within a palette).
Just a few options to make your month or months stand out on a bar chart in Tableau.
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