Advance with Assist: How to Exceed Tableau’s Column or Row Limit


Advance with Assist: How to Exceed Tableau’s Column or Row Limit

Advance with Assist shares quick solutions to common challenges encountered by the InterWorks Assist on-demand team.

Question: I need to add more than 16 columns to my sheet. How is this possible?

Let me start by saying that this is not recommended by InterWorks. If we are using this many rows or columns to create a crosstab view, there is likely a better software available for the task or a better way to visualize the data in Tableau itself. That being said, we see this when clients are tooling Tableau to mimic an Excel spreadsheet or craft a simple text view to be distributed on a printout.

What is Currently Possible in Tableau

Tableau typically only allows six dimensions across our Rows in a view like the one below:

default Rows view in Tableau

I can change this to allow up to 16 dimensions from Analysis > Table Layout > Advanced:

advanced table layout in Tableau

Two Ways to Exceed Tableau’s Column Limit

The first comes from a 2015 Tableau Conference session called “Use Tableau Like a Sith.”

Step 1: After going to Analysis >Table Layout > Advanced and changing the number in Rows and/or Columns to 16, save your workbook as a .twb.

Step 2: Open this file in Notepad.

Step 3: Search for the text: attr=’row-levels’.

  • <format attr=’row-levels’ value=’16’ />
  • <format attr=’row-horiz-levels’ value=’16’ />

Change the value of 16 to however many rows or columns you need.

Step 4: Save the Notepad file.

Step 5: Re-open your workbook in Tableau.

The second way is what some Tableau users call the Forklift method. Essentially, we will be using axes to trick Tableau into giving us more locations to place data fields.

Step 1: Create a parameter with a float value of 1. These are the default settings. Keep these:

default parameter settings in Tableau

Step 2: Place this field on Columns for however many extra columns you need to add.

Step 3: Use the Marks cards to place separate fields onto Text separate Marks. Switch the Mark Type to Text:

forklift method in TableauStep 4: Right-click the axis at the bottom to Edit Axis. Change the ranges to be Fixed for each axis. The field will always be displayed at the value of 1.

  • For left-justified, try a range of 0 to 3
  • For centered, 0 to 2
  • For right-justified, 0 to 1.6

When done, hide the axes by right-clicking and unchecking Show Header.

Step 5: Finalize the formatting by removing grid lines, zero lines and any borders you don’t want.

  • Right-click in the sheet and select Format, or use the Format drop-down menu from the top of the window.

Managing Multiple Axes Instances

It is possible to manage many instances of these axes, depending on the size of your monitor. I could fit 55 different Marks cards on my monitor; with the 16-field limit, that got me to a total of 71 columns. Each axis would have to be individually given a range, and each field would have to be placed on its respective Marks card, so managing this method is labor intensive.

To reiterate, it is not recommended to use Tableau in this way, but this is a stretch solution for those times when it is unavoidable.

Want More Advance with Assist

  1. Advance with Assist: Filtering Select Dates with DATETRUNC
  2. Advance with Assist: Enhancing Dashboards with Custom Icons
  3. Advance with Assist: Tableau Power User Leaving the Company
  4. Advance with Assist: Context Filters and LOD Calculations
  5. Advance with Assist: Custom Subscriptions with Tableau Server Custom Views
  6. Advance with Assist: Blending with Dimension Not Utilized
  7. Advance with Assist: Creating a Sankey Diagram from Survey Data
  8. Advance with Assist: Multiple Dashboard Actions with a Single Click
  9. Advance with Assist: Refreshing Tableau Online Data with Tableau Bridge
  10. Advance with Assist: Parameter Performance Optimization
  11. Advance with Assist: Using Custom Backgrounds with Polygon Shapefiles
  12. Advance with Assist: Changing Default Properties on Data
  13. Advance with Assist: Options for Calculating Percentages
  14. Advance with Assist: Removing Options from Filter List
  15. Advance with Assist: Extracting Year from De-identified Text String
  16. Advance with Assist: Marking the Latest Date on Trend Line
  17. Advance with Assist: What You Need to Know About Aliases
  18. Advance with Assist: Function Compatibility
  19. Advance with Assist: Mass Parameter Replacement
  20. Advance with Assist: Sorting with MONTH in Reverse
  21. Advance with Assist: Ungroup Column Headers That Have Concatenated
  22. Advance with Assist: Connectionless Failure Error in Tableau Server
  23. Advance with Assist: How to Exceed Tableau’s Column or Row Limit
  24. Advance with Assist: Adding Email Links to Your Dashboard
  25. Advance with Assist: Saving User-Selected Filters on Tableau Server
  26. Advance with Assist: Tableau and Named Ranges in Excel
  27. Advance with Assist: Editing Custom Fields in Tableau-Published Data Sources
  28. Advance with Assist: NOW and TODAY Functions in Tableau
  29. Advance with Assist: Sheet Swapping with Dummy Headers
  30. Advance with Assist: REST Error in Tableau and Snowflake Connection
  31. Advance with Assist: Mapping with One Data Row in Tableau 2019.2
  32. Advance with Assist: Multi-Number Formats for Single Calculations
  33. Advance with Assist: Removing Background Landmass on a Tableau Map
  34. Advance with Assist: Filtering Data Sources on Tableau Server
  35. Advance with Assist: Swapping Sheets in Tableau 2019.2
  36. Advance with Assist: Filling in Null Records Without Filtering
  37. Advance with Assist: Nested IF Calculations in Tableau
  38. Advance with Assist: Getting Show/Hide Buttons to Appear in Tableau Desktop
  39. Advance with Assist: Alteryx Output Error
  40. Advance with Assist: Missing Joins in Tableau 2020.2
  41. Advance with Assist: Tableau Server – Interactive MicroService Container Degraded
  42. Advance with Assist: A Shortcut for Duplicating Calculations
  43. Advance with Assist: Tableau Server License Renewal Refresh 
  44. Advance with Assist: Encrypt Tabcmd Credentials
  45. Advance with Assist: Pointing Tableau to a Named Range
  46. Advance with Assist: Tableau Server Migrations
  47. Advance with Assist: Adding ALL Selection to Parameters
  48. Advance with Assist: Uncaught Type Error in Tableau Server
  49. Advance with Assist: Site Roles Changing on Tableau Server
  50. Advance with Assist: Highlighting Points of Interest
  51. Advance with Assist: Finding Max Date and More
  52. Advance with Assist: Adding Field Names Above Bars on a Bar Chart
  53. Advance with Assist: Using Map Layers with Unconnected Data Sources

More About the Author

Grant Eisenmenger

Analytics Consultant
Options for Row-Level Security in Tableau Now that you know you need Row-Level Security (RLS) and you are familiar with the basic concepts and building blocks, we can take a ...
Row-Level Security Basics in Tableau In this blog, we will run through fundamental concepts and building blocks for Row-Level Security (RLS) solutions. This will include: ...

See more from this author →

InterWorks uses cookies to allow us to better understand how the site is used. By continuing to use this site, you consent to this policy. Review Policy OK


Interworks GmbH
Ratinger Straße 9
40213 Düsseldorf
Geschäftsführer: Mel Stephenson

Telefon: +49 (0)211 5408 5301

Amtsgericht Düsseldorf HRB 79752
UstldNr: DE 313 353 072


Love our blog? You should see our emails. Sign up for our newsletter!