Year over Year Quick Tip

Over the years as a Tableau user I’ve learned to adjust my vizzes depending on the audience. Displaying Year over Year is an important metric to many at my organization. Here is a quick and easy way that I use often.

I’m using the Superstore sample data that ships with Tableau. Place Order Date in the Columns shelf and Sales in the Rows shelf, change the Marks to Bar.

ScreenHunter_06 Feb. 01 20.01

Now grab Sales again and place it in the Label Marks. Hover over the right edge of the pill until you see the triangle. Click it and move down to Quick Table Calculation > Percent Difference

ScreenHunter_09 Feb. 01 20.05

And that’s it! Tableau will use the earliest date as the base line and calculate the YoY change.

ScreenHunter_10 Feb. 01 20.06

I like this view because the viz utilizes the Y axis to display the Sales in dollars, but the label shows the YoY growth. The two metrics combined provide more context to your audience.

One thing to keep in mind is that if current year is not over, filter for months. Let’s say today is currently June 2013 and management wants to know how Sales are tracking against previous years.

ScreenHunter_12 Feb. 01 20.09

Hold right click as you drag Order Date into the Filter shelf. Filter on Months and only include January to May. Very simple!

Share Button


  1. This is great. However, what if I don’t want to show the first reference year. So in your example instead of showing 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013. I only want to show 2011, 2012 and 2013 but I want to see the YoY number for each of those years.

  2. Great post…thank you. My question is, when I change the view to table, and try to Grand total the column, I get the error, “Cannot turn on Grand Totals for discrete measures” . When I change index from “discrete” to “continuous”, then I see both years again.

Leave a Reply