What are measures in Tableau?

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Previously we discussed what are dimensions in Tableau. While they are important to understand, another vital part of Tableau data is measures, and they are equally important.

So how does Tableau define measures?

In their post on Tableau Measures, they define it as follows:

Measures contain numeric, quantitative values that you can measure. Measures can be aggregated. When you drag a measure into the view, Tableau applies an aggregation to that measure (by default).

Source: Tableau

So in other words, it is a set of information that allows you to compute statistics on the data e.g. sum , count, average.

When your data is loaded into the Tableau project, it automatically deines which are dimensions and which are measures.

As a result you don’t need to do this step, but they can be changed, and this is described below.

Where will I see measures on the Tableau screen?

Normally they can be seen on the left hand side on your sheet like below, directly below dimensions:

Where can I incorporate measures in my Tableau project?

They can be incorporated as a column or row value. Also they can be included as a mark or as a filter as well.

Where can I find the default properties of measures?

In each measure value there are menus associated with each, and you can change any property by clicking on the down arrow.

In the below screenshot, it can be seen that for QTY, in the drop down menu , there are a number of options to change in the default properties section.

Can a measure be changed to a dimension?

The answer is yes, but read on.

If you want to convert a measure to a dimension, first of all you got to ask , why you would want do that?

Some values, may be classified as measures, but in actual fact they maybe better suited to dimensions.

  • An example would be a postal code, while it contains number and letters, it might not always be suited as a measure.
  • Age is another example, where you might not want to aggregate, for example, sum or count? In this instance you may want to put them into buckets of age categories, and this is where changing them to a dimension may help.

If you want to change a measure to a dimension, some of the options are:

(A) Drag the measure to the dimension area on the sheet tab.

(B) Right mouse click on the measure, and click “convert to dimension”

We hope you have enjoyed this post, you can see more Tableau posts here.

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