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.

What are dimensions in Tableau?

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

In our previous post, we showed you how to connect to your data in Tableau. Now that you are in we are going to discuss dimensions and what they can be used for.

What are Dimensions?

When you login to Tableau, you will see the dimensions information on the left hand side as below. We have included the below from our previous post.

When we talk about dimensions, they are values that contain information that can be measured. So, in other words, you can aggregate them into groups.

Aggregating essentially means you can get summary information on the dimension.

Typical examples of aggregation that could be applied include:

  • Count
  • Sum
  • Minimum
  • Maximum

How do you use dimensions in Tableau?

What you can do is drag the dimension over to the column or row values, as per the below:


You can then drop additional information into the sheet , to give you more enriched data to analyse. Below we have “Country” in columns and “ISO Code” in rows.

As you will see above there is no actual information that you can use, to make a decision on. The raw file we have pulled this information from which has 100K records in it, can have a count applied against the “ISO code” row field as follows:

As a result we can now get a better view of the data as follows:

What are the types of things I can with a dimension?

You can change the characteristics of dimensions to get them in a format you would like. Some of the possible ways you could achieve this is:

(A) Create a calculated field, this allows you to have additional information that assists better decision making.

(B) You can change the data type of the field. I would check before doing this as it could have a profound effect on how the data is presented, and not every field may be suited to doing this.

Changing the field ” country” from string to boolean data type as an example, yields the below, which is not very meaningful.

(C) You can change the default properties of the what is presented to you:

In this scenario, I have sorted “country” ascending, and in alphabetic order

outputting the following:

(D) Another option if you so desire is to change the Alias on a field, to a name that is more suitable or meets your needs better.

This can be achieved as follows:


As can been seen from the above, I originally had the first bar as “Australia”, but then changed its alias to AUS.

As a result the chart updated to shows AUS.

In this scenario changing aliases , you would need to be careful as some names are quite similar, i.e. Australia and Austria

Luckily Tableau has that sorted, as if you do try to do that, you get the following:

You can also see other tableau tips we have written!