Dashboard Productivity Tips

Below are some tips I’ve found helpful to speed things up when creating dashboards. I hope you find them useful.

Keyboard shortcuts

These are the ones I use most often to save time:

G Show or hide the grid
T Switch tabs on the Dashboard pane (between “Dashboard” and “Layout”)
CTRL+SHIFT+D Open the Dashboard Actions dialog
CTRL+SHIFT+S Publish the open dashboard to Tableau public (you’ll be prompted to sign-in to
Tableau Public if you’re not already)
then O
Open the Edit Tooltip dialog for the selected worksheet on the dashboard.  This
saves you from having to go back to the worksheet to edit tooltips.

Edit a calculation from the dashboard

To avoid going back to an individual sheet to edit a calculation you can select a sheet on the dashboard and then go to the Analysis > Edit Calculated Field menu option to open the calculation editor:

Toggle between floating and tiled

Want to quickly move a KPI sheet or text box out of a horizontal container and float it somewhere else on the dashboard?  When repositioning an object on the dashboard, you can hold the SHIFT key down to toggle between floating and tiled. 

Copy text formatting

While you can’t copy and paste a text object, you can open one up text object and copy the text within it and paste that into a new text object. This will bring all the formatting with it: text size, colour, font etc.

Use global formatting options

When adding, for example, an annotation to a dashboard, it can be tempting to right click on the annotation and select Format… to change its appearance. 

However, when you do this it overrides the workbook defaults. If you then add more annotations, you can’t format them all in one operation (at least not any aspect that you’ve formatted at the individual object level).

To help maintain consistent formatting across objects, use the formatting option from the Format menu:

For example, below I’ve formatted the colour of one annotation to be blue with an orange border and text alignment to be right-aligned. If I then go to change the formatting of all annotations using global formatting, the one formatted as blue does not change colour and the text remains right-aligned:

To clear the custom formatting of the one annotation, open it’s format pane and then right click on any formatting elements that are bold (indicating they have been changed from the default) and click Clear. The annotation will then match the global formatting and will take on any further global formatting changes.

Turn a horizontal container into a vertical container

When you only have two objects (views, text boxes, blanks etc.) in a container you can move one of the objects such that the type of container changes:

Rename objects in the Item Hierarchy

To help you navigate to the right object on your dashboard, rename objects in the Item Hierarchy. “Company Logo” is a lot easier to identify than “Image“, especially when you have lots of image objects. Views will automatically take the name of the sheet tab, so if you have given them descriptive names, you can focus on other dashboard objects, such as images, text blocks and web objects.

Double click an object handle to select its container

When an object (a view, text box or image etc.) is selected, it has a frame with a handle on top. Double clicking that handle will select the container that the objects sits inside (if it is inside a container, of course). This also works for nested containers.

Thanks to Andrew Le Breuilly for reminding me to call this one out specifically.

Use the Item Hierarchy to select an object

For dashboards with many objects, scanning the Item Hierarchy for the one you want to select can save time. You can also click on an object in the Hierarchy, keep the mouse button held down and move the mouse up and down the hierarchy to serially select each item on the dashboard. This is handy if you skipped the earlier tip about renaming objects and are now trying to quickly identify each object on your dashboard.

Position objects using the mouse wheel

With floating objects it can be a challenge to move them constrained to horizontal or vertical movement when clicking and dragging. You can use the mouse wheel to quickly change the Position (and Size) values in the dashboard pane to make this kind of movement easier.

  • Mouse wheel = 1 px change
  • CTRL+Mouse wheel = 10 px change

I hope these help speed up your dashboard creations!


Latest YouTube video
This video tutorial steps through how to create a dot plot in Tableau.

One thought on “Dashboard Productivity Tips

Add yours

  1. Great tips! I particularly like the ones about using the mouse wheel, and editing tooltips and calcs from the dashboard.

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