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Tableau Tutorial For Beginners With Example

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If you are here looking where to start with Tableau training, you must know by know what Business Intelligence is. By any chance you don’t, let me give you a brief idea about it. Business Intelligence comprises of mainly three parts,

  1. Databases— Querying data, Stored procedures or building tables— SQL Server
  2. ETL (Extract Transform and Load)— Moving data from one place to another—SQL Server Integration Services
  3. Visualization— Represent data as a good story— Tableau

We are going to explore third component of this suite. Tableau is a BI tool, mainly for analysis and visualization. The main advantage of Tableau is it supports 20+ data sources and learning curve is minimal. There are several flavors of this software.

  • Tableau Reader
  • Tableau Public
  • Tableau Server (For organizations)
  • Tableau Online (Cloud Solution)
  • Tableau Desktop

Setting Up Tableau Desktop

You can download Tableau Desktop from their official website which comes with a 14-day free trail. As soon as you download and install Tableau, you will see this window.

You have to register yourself to access 14-day trail. And that’s it. It’s that simple. Every learner is different, some of you might be comfortable with videos and some of you might like to read. If you are a reader, you are in a right place. But, if you prefer visual learning, many good Tableau learning videos are out there.

Exploring basic Tableau

Now that you are ready with your environment, let us start your easy to understand Tableau online training and play a little with data to understand it even better. As you can see, there are several options to choose from while importing data. We will use Excel just because it is really easy to start with and most of us know what an excel sheet is. There is enormous amount of data that you can use to start with Tableau but here I will use already maintained excel sheet that is ready to go into Tableau. You may find the sheet here if you want to explore along with this tutorial.

These are some world bank indicators such as Countries, their GDP, their total traded values, etc. This excel sheet has 4 sub sheets in it. As soon as you open the excel sheet in Tableau, you will have this window. On the left top you can see the data sheet you imported, right below that you will see the sub sheets in our main data sheet.

Moving forward, select one sub-sheet, here I am going with “Data by Country,” and it will automatically detect all the columns and rows in it and display in a tabular form. If you have noticed, there are two radio buttons on the upper right side of the image under the title ‘Connection,’ wonder what that is? Keep reading and I will explain that in detail later on.

Now that we have successfully imported data, let us make your first Tableau report from it. Excited? Roll up your sleeves, you are going to learn something amazing today. Select ‘Sheet’ from lower left corner and rename it to whatever comes to your mind. I will go with ‘World Indicators’ just so that it is easy for layman to understand what this report is all about.

As you can see on the left panel, there are mainly two things to choose your data from, first is Dimensions, which is data like date, country name, region, etc. Whereas, second is Measures, which is basically numbers like revenue, total count, GDP, etc.

Let’s drag and drop country name from dimensions and GDP data from measures to the work-space. You can add another column as well, in fact as many as you want, I will add third something interesting, am.. let’s add total traded value in percentage GDP. There it is. You have created a simple report in Tableau which is created using data from same sheet.

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Adding Data From Different Sub Sheet

Yes, you read it right. In Tableau, you can add data from different sub sheets and create a single report. Let’s see how it is done. Go to data source, select second data sheet and drop it to the blank space at the top of the work-space. As you can see you’ll have to select which relation or ‘join’ you want to have between these two sheets (In short, a common column from both the sheets so that all the other columns/data is arranged accordingly.) As you see in the data, three columns on the right side is from the other sheet and now both are merged.

Let’s move to work sheet and you will see there is another sub-category in dimensions which is from another sheet. Let’s import region and sub region from that sheet and now our report looks more perfect in certain way with full of necessary data.

Just like this way, you can add another data source like SQL and merge that data with this same report to generate more dynamic report. You may find additional information regarding SQL data source in this Tableau tutorial PDF for integration.


A dashboard is nothing but combination of different Tableau sheets. It is helpful while presenting data, you don’t have to change between sheets. All of your data is in one place. Let’s create a second sheet of total population of all countries and name it “Population Data by Country.”

Now let’s create a dashboard, in the bottom, right after the new sheet icon there is one more icon that looks like grid for creating dashboards. As soon as you click that you have a blank dashboard work-space just like in mage below. And, on the left you can see all your sheets under the Sheets section.

That’s it, drag, drop, and re-position sheets the way you want it to look and you have successfully created your first dashboard.


No matter how perfectly you structure your data in tabular form unless it is in a visualization form, it is of no use to ordinary people. Tableau is very efficient at handling visualizations. Let’s look how it is done. Let us create another sheet namely ‘Car usage (world)’ and drag and drop data of transit passenger car and year. It will look something like shown in image below.

Now as you can see there are some already formatted charts on the right side. Some of them are blacked out and we can’t use it because its format doesn’t match out data. Let’s select any of the line chart, and it will give you a chart like this.

In addition, if you drag and drop data of cars to Label under the ‘Marks’ section in the center, it will generate tool-tip on the data, which makes it twice as appealing as before.

Appreciate yourself a little because you now know all you need to know about Tableau basics from installing it to generating report and to creating visualizations.

Advance Concepts in Tableau

Live vs Extract

Remember the Live vs Extract I talked about earlier in this post? Let’s break it down,

Live is when you use data directly from your data source such as Excel. In Extract, your data is imported into Tableau and stored in its own format to speed up report generation and visualization. In addition, you have option of selecting specific data that you need for particular task in Extract mode.


Hierarchy is same as its original meaning. This feature comes in handy when you are working with geographical data. For instance, you have to add Country, Region, and Sub-region, which is a hierarchy. So, what you do is, you add all 3 to one single parent sheet and whenever you want to use all three of that, just drag single parent sheet and all three will be imported to your work-space.


Calculation is simple way of combining two data sheets into one. For example, you have two sheets, First Name and Last Name, and you want to join both, that’s where you use calculations. However, it is much more than that and can perform more complex calculations.

Tableau Server

If you work in an organization and you work in a team, and say, your team mate starts working from where you stop. So, he/she doesn’t have to perform all the tasks from the beginning, you upload this on Tableau server of your organization and provide link to your colleague so that he/she can start working from where you left.

End Notes

I have tried to cover all the basic and some advanced elements to get you started with Tableau.

While understanding Tableau, you should also be aware of Data Blending. Over the years, Data Blending in Tableau has gained immense popularity amongst the Data Analysts & has the potential of blending and joining data sources.

Now as they all say, Practice makes a man perfect, you need to practice this thing on your own to master the skills. If you are done with the beginner’s part, there are some excellent Tableau tutorial YouTube and if you are a visual learner you may find Tableau tutorials PPTs on platforms such as Slideshare.

Happy learning!

Guest Blogger (Data Science) at Digital Vidya. A Data passionate who loves reading and diving deeper into the Machine Learning and Data Science arts. Always eager to learn about new research and new ways to solve problems using ML and AI.

  • Data-Analytics

  • There are 4 comments

    • 4 months ago

      Parth Parmar   /   Reply


      • 4 months ago

        Dhrumil   /   Reply

        Thank you

    • 4 months ago

      akshay   /   Reply

      Great article. Very well written and equally helpful!

      • 4 months ago

        Dhrumil   /   Reply

        Thanks, I am glad you find it useful.

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