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Proportional Brushing

Have you ever wondered how to compare a proportion of your data visually against a total? There are a couple of different ways to do so. These methods discussed below are called proportional brushing. You can accomplish a visual comparison with calculated fields or with Set Actions .

Both methods are displayed in my Tableau Public dashboard here.

Calculated Fields Method

In the first example I show the Total sales by month by the most current year. When you select the Sub-Category from a filter a new line will display below the Total sales line as shown below;

This new line will display the total sales for the Sub-Category you select in the filter.

In order to create this view, I had to make a couple of different calculated fields for this worksheet;


Year([Order Date])


Month([Order Date])

Fixed Total Sales

{ Fixed [Year],[Month]: Sum(Sales) }

I put Year on the Filters marks card and checked the box for the most current year.

I put Month on the Columns shelf and made sure it was the Discrete month format.

I selected the Sales and Fixed Total Sales values and then moved the Measure Values pill to the Rows shelf.

I selected Line chart from the Marks Type drop-down.

I dragged Measure Names over to the Color Marks card.

I put Sub-category on the Filters Marks card.

I also changed the colors of the lines, removed the grid lines, etc.

The final worksheet should appear as below;

Now, when you select a Sub-Category from the filter, this category will display below the Fixed Total Sales line.

Set Actions Method

In the below chart I display a proportion of the data based on a Set I created with the Sub-category.

I put Sales on the Columns shelf.

I placed Segment and Category on the Rows shelf.

I put Sales on the Label Marks card.

I dragged Sub-Category on the Detail Marks card.

I right-clicked on Sub-category and selected Create > Set.

I selected Accessories in the Create Set pop-up menu and then clicked OK.

I then moved this set to the Color Marks card.

I selected a light grey for the Out and left blue for the In.

On the Sales Label I selected Percent of Total under the Quick Table calculation. I then selected Compute Using > Table Across for this metric.

The worksheet should appear as below;

Then I added this worksheet to the Dashboard.

I created a separate worksheet for buttons for the Subcategory. I used a min calculation to make these buttons. I used the method in this article here.

I then selected the Dashboard actions menu to add a Set Action.

On the Actions pop-up menu I selected Change Set Values from the Add Action drop-down.

I selected the Subcategory worksheet since this is the button worksheet for the chart. I selected the Sub-Category set from the Target Set drop-down.

I selected Assign the Values to the set under Running the action will menu.

Under Clearing the selection will, I put Keep set values. This will keep the last selection in the view. I then clicked OK.

Now the blue bar will change when you click on the Sub-Category button and will display the percentage in the tooltip.

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