How to create a waterfall chart using Tableau

A waterfall chart is an alternative version of the vertical bar chart that shows the contribution of each dimension member to the total.

The chart helps you to see the impact of each dimension member on the running total as shown below:

In the above chart, you can see how each Item dimension contributes to the Grand Total value.

This tutorial will help you learn how to create the waterfall chart in the example above.

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


Once downloaded, you need to load the data as a Text File in Tableau.

Open the Sheet view in Tableau and do the following steps to create a vertical bar chart:

  • Drag the Items field into the Columns shelf
  • Drag the Total Sales field into the Rows shelf
  • Right-click the Total Sales field and select Quick Table Calculation > Running Total
  • Right-click the Items field and select the Sort… option
  • Sort the Items field by the Sum of Total Sales field in a Descending order

You should see the following chart in your worksheet:

With the chart above as the base, you can now continue to create the waterfall chart.

In the Marks pane, change the mark type from Automatic to Gantt Bar. You should see lines replacing the bars in the graph.

The next step is to make the size of the bar visible in your sheet. This can be done by creating a negative number of the measure you used as the Y-axis.

In the case of this example, you need to put the negative number of the SUM(Total Sales) field as the Size mark of the graph.

First, create a calculated field named Negative Total Sales with the formula of -[Total Sales].

Then, add the Negative Total Sales field as a Size mark in the Marks pane.

The waterfall chart should now be visible in your worksheet:

There are a few things you can do to improve the waterfall chart and make it more informative.

You need to select the Analytics pane next to the Data pane, then drag the Totals option to the worksheet.

Select the Row Grand Totals option to add the Grand Totals field to the chart:

Next, add the Total Sales field as a Label mark to make the total sales of each item visible.

Finally, you can click on the Color mark and change the color. I prefer to use green because the chart is visualizing financial information.

You can view and download the completed waterfall chart in the Workbook below:

Tableau Waterfall Chart Example

Now you’ve learned how to create a waterfall chart using Tableau.

As always, you can customize the chart further depending on the purpose of your chart.

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