Bar in bar charts: Visualise your targets

Kejsi Bebi

Bar in bar charts are a really useful tool in Tableau that helps professionals visualise their business outcomes. They are simple to create and offer a real boost to data analysis, making it easy to compare previous vs. actual year targets.   

Here is our step-by-step guide to creating them.

To begin with, we initially connect to our data. To demonstrate this we are using the Sample EU superstore data set which can be found on Tableau.

In a new sheet drag the Sales measure onto Rows and Region onto Columns. The data is now split by region as seen when the headers appear.


Next, we drag our second measure, (in this example Profit) on top of our Sales axis which as you can see below generates side by side bars.

To ensure the measures are kept on top of each other, we drag ‘Measure names’ from the column shelf and place them onto the colour shelf. 

Since the bars are stacked, we go to the Analysis menu (highlighted below) and hover our mouse over the Stack Marks and turn them off by selecting "off" instead of "Automatic" this ensures that one mark is behind the other.

The next step entails making the bars different sizes to better visualise the difference. This is done by dragging ‘Measure Names’ into the size shelf. You can now easily see Sales in the background and Profit in the centre.

If you would prefer to see them reversed you can simply reorder them at the Measure Values shelf by clicking and moving the pills accordingly.

With this, we have created a thermometer type view which demonstrates sales and profit over different regions across Europe. To change the direction or colours of our chart, we can perform some basic editing functions by either flipping it or by changing the size and choosing colours from the colour palette subject to our own preferences as seen above.

As well as being simple to create, bar in bar charts make visualisations clear and effective.

In any business context, they allow for daily decisions to be quicker but most importantly for data scientists to never go out of style!.

Once you’ve learned how to be creative with your dashboards, you could easily remake any data visualisation and share it with the Tableau community which is a great platform to receive feedback from. We’d also advise you to have a look at - a weekly learning and development platform joining hundreds of data-driven people to create effective visualizations. In addition to enhancing your data viz skills, this could also help you turn any raw data into valuable information.


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