How to Create a Waterfall Chart

I had a user ask if I would do a blog on how to create a Waterfall Chart. These are also known as Bridge Charts because they look like a visual bridge.


Waterfall Charts display the part to the whole. If you had a project that took a certain number of days to complete, you could use a waterfall chart to visually display the different processes that took place for that whole time period.


Microsoft has another use case example here which shows you what costs impact your total revenue such as cost of goods, and administrative costs.


Ryan Sleeper took Waterfall Charts to the next level here with adding highlighting features. This is a great way to identify the parts of the whole.


Steps to Create a Simple Waterfall Chart


I am using some of Ryan's methods in the steps below, but I also modified a couple of steps.

I am using Sales-Superstore data for this example.

First I added Sub-category to the Columns shelf.

Then I added Sales to the Rows shelf.

I then clicked on the down arrow of the Sales metric on the Rows shelf and selected Running Total from the Quick Table Calculation menu.



This should make your Bar chart appear as below since Tableau is adding the Sales of each Sub-category together;


Then I changed the Mark type from Automatic to Gantt Bar. I also placed Sales on the Size Marks card.


The Waterfall Chart above is incorrect as the sales are displaying an Increase and they need to be displaying a Decrease. To change this you right-click on the Sales mark on Size and select Edit in Shelf. Then you add a minus sign, in front of the Sum([Sales]).


Now you can adjust the sort so the high selling items can be in the beginning of your Waterfall Chart. Click on the Sub-Category pill on the Columns shelf and select Sort. Then select Nested in the Sort By drop-down. Click on Descending and select Sales from the Field Name drop-down.


The Phones Sub-category will now be in the beginning of the chart.


Now to add a Grand Totals bar at the end of this Waterfall Chart, you need to click on the Analytics pane. Click on Totals and drag it to the Canvas. You will need to place this pill on the Row Grand Totals button.


Now the Grand Totals column will be at the end of your Waterfall Chart.


Follow the steps in Ryan's article to add a Highlighting option to this chart.

I have this chart for download in my Tableau Public World of Charts dashboard here.

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