Tableau Essentials: Formatting Tips – Labels


Tableau Essentials: Formatting Tips – Labels

Not everyone is a Tableau guru, at least not yet. To help Tableau rookies, we’re starting from square one with the Tableau Essentials blog series. The series is intended to be an easy-to-read reference on the basics of using Tableau Software, particularly Tableau Desktop. Since there are so many cool features to cover in Tableau, the series will include several different posts.

Today, we’re going to cover labels and some of the tricks and tips you can use with your visualization. To start, let’s take a simple horizontal bar chart.

Bar Chart

Our bar chart shows the penetration of Internet usage of countries with 200 million people or more. Now, let’s click on the Show Mark Labels button in the toolbar at the top of the Tableau interface.

Show Mark Labels

By default, Tableau will label your marks with the primary measure in the Row shelf:

With Labels 

If you have a densely packed visualization, like a packed bubble chart, then Tableau will selectively show some labels to avoid the labels being too cluttered and possibly overlapping each other.

The first thing we’ll do is format our labels. Click on the Label button on the Marks card.

Marks card 

This will bring up the Label option menu:

Labels option menu 

The first checkbox is the same as the toolbar button, Show Mark Labels. The next section, Label Appearance, controls the basic appearance and formatting options of the label. We’ll return to the first field, Text, in just a moment. The font and alignment control the stylistic elements:

  • Font type
  • Font size
  • Bold
  • Italics
  • Underline
  • Color
  • Transparency

The Font menu is depicted here:

Font menu 

And the Alignment menu is depicted here:

Alignment menu 

Let’s make our labels bold and red, and let’s also change the direction.


Here’s how our revisions look on the visualization:

Revised viz 

Let’s add some additional measures to our labels. You can do this by dragging measures directly onto the Label button. Since there is no label specifically defined and Tableau is using the default, we have to start by dragging and dropping the primary measure else any other measure that we drag and drop will replace our current label. Then, we can add additional measures.

Add measures 

We have added three different measures to the label, indicated on the Marks card with the ABC 123 icon next to each. Now, each of those three fields will appear on the visualization, like so:

Revised viz 2 

Let’s go back to that Text field on the label button menu. Clicking on the button next to it will bring up the Edit Label window.

Edit Label 

You can use this window to format the style of your labels very specifically or even use it to insert additional fields from your visualization with the Insert drop-down menu. The red X at the end will clear the formatting (but not your labels). You can even manually enter text into the text box.

Let’s change some of the formatting like this (as well as changing back the direction of our text on the Alignment menu):

Edit Label 

All of our formatting and changes to our labels makes our visualization look like this:

Final viz 

Now, you can see that our horizontal bar chart is much more informative and compelling than how we originally started. By making the primary measure more prominent, we kept the main message of our story but now with some additional information that really adds another level of detail.

Finding the right mix and blend of labels in your visualization will take a bit of an artist’s touch. There is no perfect formula to determine when you’ve hit the sweet spot between readability and too much clutter. Let us know if you have any questions or thoughts on labels!

Formatting Tips

Below is a complete list of Formatting Tips posts that can help you transform your vizzes into works of arts. Check back frequently for new additions.


  1. Custom Shapes
  2. Labels
  3. Color
  4. Tooltips
  5. Maps

More Tableau Essentials

Want to learn more about Tableau? We have several posts outlining all of Tableau’s fantastic features. Check out the full list on our Tableau Essentials blog channel.

As always, let us know if you have any questions or comments about this post or Tableau in general. If you’re looking for personalized training or help with something bigger, contact us directly!

Want More Tableau Essentials

  1. Tableau Essentials: Chart Types – Introduction
  2. Tableau Essentials: Chart Types – The Text Table
  3. Tableau Essentials: Chart Types – Heat Map
  4. Tableau Essentials: Chart Types – Highlight Table
  5. Tableau Essentials: Chart Types – Symbol Map
  6. Tableau Essentials: Chart Types – Filled Map
  7. Tableau Essentials: Chart Types – Pie Chart
  8. Tableau Essentials: Chart Types – Horizontal Bar Chart
  9. Tableau Essentials: Chart Types – Stacked Bar Chart
  10. Tableau Essentials: Chart Types – Side-by-Side Bar Chart
  11. Tableau Essentials: Chart Types – Treemap
  12. Tableau Essentials: Chart Types – Circle View
  13. Tableau Essentials: Chart Types – Side-by-Side Circle View
  14. Tableau Essentials: Chart Types – Line Charts (Continuous & Discrete)
  15. Tableau Essentials: Chart Types – Dual-Line Chart (Non-Synchronized)
  16. Tableau Essentials: Chart Types – Area Charts (Continuous & Discrete)
  17. Tableau Essentials: Chart Types – Scatter Plot
  18. Tableau Essentials: Chart Types – Histogram
  19. Tableau Essentials: Chart Types – Box-and-Whisker Plot
  20. Tableau Essentials: Chart Types – Gantt Chart
  21. Tableau Essentials: Chart Types – Bullet Graph
  22. Tableau Essentials: Chart Types – Packed Bubbles
  23. Tableau Essentials: Formatting Tips – Introduction
  24. Tableau Essentials: Formatting Tips – Custom Shapes
  25. Tableau Essentials: Formatting Tips – Labels
  26. Tableau Essentials: Formatting Tips – Color
  27. Tableau Essentials: Formatting Tips – Tooltips
  28. Tableau Essentials: Formatting Tips – Maps
  29. Tableau Essentials: Calculated Fields – Introduction
  30. Tableau Essentials: Calculated Fields – Logical Functions
  31. Tableau Essentials: Calculated Fields – Number Functions
  32. Tableau Essentials: Calculated Fields – Date Functions
  33. Tableau Essentials: Calculated Fields – String Functions
  34. Tableau Essentials: Calculated Fields – Type Conversion
  35. Tableau Essentials: Calculated Fields – Aggregate Functions
  36. Tableau Essentials: Calculated Fields – User Functions

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