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When Would You Use a Dot Strip Plot?

Both Scatter plots and Dot Strip plots display insights in your data, but when would you use a Dot Strip plot over a Scatter plot? What type of insights can they display?


A great resource to check which chart can be used for what analysis, is in Andy Kriebel's Tableau Public Visual Vocabulary here.


A Dot Strip plot displays ranking and it can also be used to reflect distribution. I used it in my Tableau Public dashboard here to show you where you select a help desk user and see how they rank compared to the other help desk users. I added an average reference line in order for the user to see if the selected user was above or below the average.


A Scatter plot can show you correlation between two measures. It can also help you identify outliers. In my classes, I use this chart to identify customers that have a negative profit and a high sales amount with the help of Combined Sets. This can help store owners determine what products they should discontinue if it is cutting into their profits. My example is here in a past blog post. I also walk you through how to create a Scatter plot in this post.


If you added a size pre-attentive attribute to a Scatter plot, it can help identify ranks. This changes the Scatter plot into a Bubble or Ordered Proportional Symbol chart.


How do you Create a Dot Strip Plot?


I will walk you through how to create a Dot Strip plot using the Sample Superstore data set.


First I filtered the dashboard by the Order Date of December and the most recent year.


I placed Sub-Category on the Rows shelf.

I added Customer Name to the Details Marks card to add more granularity to the view.

I changed the Marks type to a Circle.



I then put Sales on the Columns shelf. Right away I can see two outliers in the view!



I like to take this chart a step further and add an Average Reference Line for each Sub-category.


I do this by going to the Analytics tab and dragging Average line to the sheet and placing it on Cell.



I wanted to enhance this visualization even further! I right-clicked on one of the Reference lines in the sheet and then selected Edit. I then added a grey Fill Below color. This will quickly show any customers that have below average sales for the selected month.



Then I performed some housekeeping such as removing the background gridlines etc.



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