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How to Create Bullet Chart in Tableau?
Updated on 23rd Mar, 23 381 Views

Tableau is one of the most popular data analysis tools used by thousands of companies to generate valuable insights out of raw datasets. It offers numerous features that allow the user to analyze different types of data and turn them into actionable insights and visualizations. These visualizations can then be shared with other departments and stakeholders so that they can make data-driven decisions and improve their products.

Among different visualization tools, the bullet graph in Tableau is the best tool for comparing the primary measure with multiple measures and their relation to each other. These visualizations are also used to achieve certain targets and compare the results of certain periods such as the previous months or years.

Tableau Graphs

Tableau Graphs are the collection of various bar graphs along with a vertical line representing certain objectives. Invented by Stephen Few, the graph is a variation of bar charts with a point of comparison that shows the last year or target sales amount.

Graphs are a powerful visualization tool in Tableau as they are a type of chart that provides multiple functionalities and detailed information about the datasets in a single figure. In addition, they’re much easier to create and work with; different options like “Show Me” help you identify the relationship between different variables without creating separate graphs.

Learn more about Tableau from this video:

What is Bullet Chart?

A bullet chart in Tableau is an advanced version of simple bar charts that compares two or more measures/dimensions on a single bar. Here, the primary measure is represented in dark shades, while the secondary measures are represented in lighter shades. In addition, the reference line can be divided into segments like 20%, 50%, 80%, or 100%.

Compared to bullet graphs, the bullet charts in Tableau are more intuitive and provide more details in less space. An example of bullet charts would be the comparison of two measures, expected sales, and actual sales. The dark line will represent the actual sales(primary measure) and the grey line represents the secondary measure(expected sales).

Now, let’s see how to create a bullet chart in the Tableau desktop and make your reports/dashboards more intuitive. The method to create a bullet graph in Tableau is pretty similar, thus, you can easily create that using the same guide.

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How to Create a Bullet Chart in Tableau?

Before starting the process, make sure you have a sample dataset with you and upload that to Tableau Desktop. For this guide, we’ll be using the sample dataset from a superstore chain. You can download the file from here.

  • Step 1: Open the Tableau Desktop and load the dataset by clicking on the Microsoft Excel option on the left side.
  • Step 2: Now, open a blank sheet from the bottom left corner and select the fields. Here, we’ll take the Sub-Category as the primary measure along with Sales and Profit as the secondary ones.
  • Step 3: After that, select the Show Me bar from the visualization panel on the right side and click on the visualization enclosed.
  • Step 4: A bullet chart is created with the blue lines being the actual ones and grey at the background being the reference lines.
  • Step 5: You can also swap the secondary fields with each other by simply right-clicking on the mainline field on the x-axis and selecting the option named ‘Swap Reference Line Field’.
  • Step 6: From Standard to Entire View, you can also change the view type of your chart and make it cover the entire sheet.
  • Step 7: The next step is to set the aggregation type of our reference lines. This option allows you to set parameters such as the label, scope, line, formatting bars, and more. To do so, right-click on the x-axis, select Edit Reference Line>> Average Sales.

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  • Step 8: A dialog box will appear where you can do all the changes based on your requirements. You can edit the reference line value and make an average percentage segment percentage segments are done SUM(Sales) or the SUM(Profit).
  • Step 9: Now, right-click on the x-axis and select Edit Reference Line>> 60%, 80% of Average Sales.
  • Step 10: From here, you can edit the reference line based on the percentage segment of the average profit or sales value.
  • Step 11: When you hover the cursor over bar lines and click any one of them, you’ll see the percentage of average profit that creates a particular segment. Similarly, you can see which categories are crossing the bar of 60% or 80% of the average profit.
  • Step 12: So, that’s how you create a bullet chart or bullet graph in Tableau and play around with it. These charts are extremely handy and useful as they pack a lot of information in a single visualization.

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Advantages of Bullet Charts

Following are the advantages of using a Bullet chart in Tableau:

  • Bullet graphs are excellent space savers as they compress multiple measures into a single visualization through reference lines.
  • On a bullet chart, you can see multiple measures and represent them via reference lines and percentage segments.
  • Features like Entire view, Swap Reference Lines, and shades make it more presentable and easy to read.
  • By comparing different variables of a dataset, you can better understand the relationship between them and see how the changes are done in one variable affect the other.
  • Determine the overall variance and find the total difference between the two or more measures. The total figure after calculating the variance can be added to the dashboards/reports.
  • Bullet graphs can also be used on various KPI clients to make the data more understandable for the users and other stakeholders.

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Hope you learned how to create bullet graphs in Tableau and use them to perform comparative analysis, create performance metrics, etc. It’s an easy way to put multiple fields together and see the data in different scenarios like highlighting performance against a benchmark, target vs actual values, performance against multiple benchmarks, qualitative and quantitative scales, and negative scales.

If you have any queries related to Tableau or data analytics, then check out our BI Community.

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