Note: This is a guest post by Tableau Zen Master Jonathan Drummey. This post first appeared on Jonathan's blog, Drawing with Numbers.

This is a little tip that started out with a “Tableau doesn’t do that” and then an “Ooh…it does…that’s so cool!”

Here’s the problem: In a single-measure table, I want the name of the measure column as a header. In this worksheet, which uses the sample coffee chain data, I want the header “sales” to show up on top of the sales column:

Now there is a bunch of ways to work around this. If you really want to read a comprehensive list, check out the gory details. But there’s a way that tops them all that I learned, thanks to Alberto Bertellino in the aforementioned thread. From the above view (which took two clicks to build), do one (ONE!) more click & drag operation to drop Measure Values over the column, and voila!

As Steve Jobs used to say, “Boom.”

Over the last four years, this tip would have saved me at least a couple of hours of doing things like creating tables with all discretes, and then resizing columns and twiddling with formatting. Multiply that times thousands of Tableau users, and we’re talking person-years.

Got another time-saving tip? Share it in the comments below!

For more tips, tricks, and works by Jonathan, visit his blog and his Tableau Public page.


Very cool. But will you guys make that a default behaviour please at some point?

THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I fill like an idiot that I couldn't figure out

Great time saving trick. Thanks for posting it Jonathan.

You even save a few more milliseconds by double clicking on the fields in the data pane instead of dragging the fields to viz. It works on all 3 fields. Three fast double-clicks (in the right order) and you have the table.

If you drag out Measure Names to the sheet instead of Measure Values (or double click Measure Names), it does almost the same thing, except it puts Measure Names on the Columns shelf twice -- seems like a harmless bug

This approach is also handy for creating a "horizontal" title on the vertical axis (default is the terrible vertical text)

but - why doesn't the "Sales" header appear automatically when it's the only text column? If you drag SUM(Sales) to columns or rows, you get a header on the axis - why wouldn't the text col in the crosstab be treated the same way?

I wanted to do this using my calculated field defined by a parameter but it just displayed the calculated field name (dynamic metric). I dragged my parameter to column row and then hid my field label. Now my column heading updated with the metric selected based on my paramter.

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