How to create a Pareto chart using Tableau - Example workbook included

Posted on Mar 21, 2022

Gain insight into the impact made by your variables using the Pareto chart.


The Pareto chart is a dual-axis chart that contains both bars and a line graph.

This chart is named after the Italian engineer Vilfredo Pareto who founded the Pareto principle, also known as the 80/20 rule.

The Pareto principle states that around 80% of the result comes from 20% of the causes.

For example, 80% of a company’s sales number comes from 20% of the products and services offered. Or 80% of a company’s revenue is generated by 20% of its customers.

The Pareto chart uses the Pareto principle to help you identify the variable that has the most impact on your graph.

In the context of a business, it can be used to analyze the best-selling items and determine which items are the most important for the business’s success.

Here’s an example of a Pareto chart created with Tableau, showing the relation between the Total Sales percentage amount for each Item sold:

In the example above, you can see that the sales of Binder contributes around 40% of the total sales amount.

On the other hand, the Chair only makes up roughly 7% of the total sales amount.

This tutorial will help you create the above chart using Tableau.

Creating a Pareto chart using Tableau

First, you need to grab the example dataset used for this tutorial here:

SalesData.csv

The dataset contains fictional sales data of an office supplies company. Load the file into Tableau as a Text File and open the Sheet view.

You need to create a dual-axis chart as the foundation of the Pareto chart with the following steps:

  • Drag the Item variable into the Columns shelf
  • Drag the Total Sales variable into the Rows shelf twice.
  • Right-click on the second SUM(Total Sales) variable in your Rows shelf and select the Dual Axis option.

You will have a dual-axis chart with circles as the graph marks. You need to change the marks used by the two rows.

In the Marks pane, change the SUM(Total Sales) type from Automatic to Bar.

Then, change the SUM(Total Sales)(2) mark type from Automatic to Line.

Use the screenshot below to help you make the changes:

The line graph and the bars have the same blue color, making the line hard to see.

You can change the color of the line mark to any color you like. I will use Orange in this example.

Next, you need to sort the Item variable from highest to lowest total sales value.

Right-click on the Item variable in the Columns shelf and do the following steps:

  • Select Field as the Sort By option
  • Sort Order as Descending
  • Select Total Sales as the Field Name
  • Choose Sum as the Aggregation method

The sort option should look as follows:

Close the sort window, and you should see the Item bars sorted from highest to lowest:

Adding Table calculation for the Pareto chart

With the Item variable sorted, you need to add a table calculation to the line graph.

This calculation will show the total sales data as a running total to 100% with each graph as a percentage of the total.

Right-click on the SUM(Total Sales) variable that makes up the line graph in the Rows shelf and select Add Table Calculation… option.

Here are the steps to make the table calculation:

  • Select Running Total as the Primary Calculation type, then select Sum as the aggregation
  • Check the Add secondary calculation box, then select Percent of Total as the Secondary Calculation type

Your table calculation should look as follows:

Once done, close the table calculation window and you should see the line graph adds up to 100% from left to right.

Adding the contribution percentage to the line graph

The last thing you need to do is add the Total Sales variable as a Label mark to the line graph.

Right-click the label mark you’ve just added and select Quick Table Calculation > Percent of Total

You should see the completed Pareto chart as shown below:

The percentage shown on the line graph makes it easy for you to see how much each Item contributes to the total sales amount.

This insight helps your business to focus on improving the winning product more than the rest which has lower contributions.

You can view and download the Workbook for this tutorial here:

Tableau Pareto Chart Example

And that’s how you create a Pareto chart using Tableau. You can modify the example workbook to fit your project requirements. 👍

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