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Two must-know Tips and Tricks on Creating Percent of Total on Stacked Bar Chart in Tableau

Blog | February 23, 2018 | By Vijai Narasimha

‘Parts of whole’ or ‘breakdowns of whole’ are widely used concepts in data visualization. Stacked Bar is one such widely used chart in Tableau. 

Stacked Bar is one such very widely used chart in Tableau and elsewhere.

Though the police and cops of best practices tend to frown upon developers who use Stacked bar – it is still an extremely popular chart for media companies, finance teams, govt agencies, supply chain and many other industries. In most cases, if not all, Stacked Bar charts are used to represent Percent of Total Contribution.

In most cases, if not all, Stacked Bar charts are used to represent Percent of Total contribution.

Stacked bar can be interpreted in two ways: 

a. Branches & Leaves  

b. Panes & cells. 

The common question is, “Can we represent branch percentages while the percentages are shown for each leaf?” The short answer it – yes, there are multiple ways to do them. We’ve showcase two simple methods (or tricks) below.

Percent of total contribution on stacked bar chart in Tableau

Note: For this example, we will be using our favorite Sample-Superstore data from My Tableau repository (utilized with orders table)

Orders (Sample-Superstore)

Method 1 – Percent of Total on Stacked Bar in Tableau 

A step by step approach is written here using the concept of Dual Axis

1) Create a very simple stacked bar. For this example, sales as SUM aggregation on rows for each region on columns with category on the color card.

2)  The Sales field is converted into a quick table calculation called “Percent of Total” with the default “Table (across)” scope and direction

(Note: Table Calculations are auto generated functions that incorporate an aggregated measure. They are local to a viz. The ∆ symbol represents a table calc)

3) Use a copy of the existing table calculation on the label card.

Table Calculation on the Label
Quick Table Calculation – Selecting Percent of Total

4) From the Analytics Pane, use either an Average Line or Reference Line with the following features:

(** At this point – marks shelf splits into multiple components)

Marking shelf splits in Tableau

5)  From the second segment of sales on marks, remove category (this will successfully eliminate stack from the second chart at the bottom)

6) Convert marks to either a bar chart or a Gantt chart.

Converting marks into Bar chart or Gantt Chart

7) From the second sales segment, use the label card and edit text box. Manage the font size and color. (This is the number that will be represented on top of the Stacked bar)

Method showcasing ho w to Label card and edit Text box
Edit Label - font size and color

8) Use the second measure on rows to create a dual axis.

9) Convert the first sales segment under marks to a bar chart

Synchronizing the second axis in Tableau

10) Finally synchronize the second axis.

11) Just to improve the viz, hide the header for the second axis.

Edit Axis – Hide Header Option

Method 2 – Percent of Total on Stacked Bar in Tableau 

Detailed below is an easy to understand step by step approach written using the concept of reference lines.

1) Create a very simple stacked bar. For this example, sales as SUM aggregation on rows for each region on columns with category on the color card.

2) The sales field is converted into a quick table calculation called “Percent of Total” with the default “Table (across)” scope and direction

(Table Calculations are Auto generated functions that incorporate an aggregated measure. They are local to a Viz. The ∆ symbol represents a Table Calc)

3) Use a copy of the existing Table Calculation on the Label card.

4) From the Analytics Pane, use either an Average Line or Reference Line with the following features:

a) Per Cell (Tableau treats every bar as a cell in this example) with average or sum or min or max or median

b) Custom label (where it can be customized.) This label will be displayed on top of the stacked bar

Analytics Pane – Choose Average Line or Reference Line
Select Reference Line - Cell
Edit Reference Line, Band or Box – Select Scope as Per Cell and Label as Custom
Edit Reference Line, Band or Box – Custom Value

5) To work on some cosmetics, format the reference line. We can opt to not display the line and can further improve the font – making it a centre aligned label with the required number of formats and decimals.

Reference Line - opt to display to not to display the line
Format Reference Line
Format Reference Line – Custom Alignment
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Vijai Narasimha
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