Edit Axes

When you add a continuous field (a field with a green background) to the Columns or Rows shelf, it adds an axis to the view. An axis shows data points that lie within a range of values. For each axis, you can specify the range, scale, and tick mark properties.

Double-click an axis to open the Edit Axis dialog box and change the axis configuration and formatting. If you can't edit the axis, see Why can't I edit my axis?

In this example, the Profit field (a continuous measure) on the Rows shelf creates a vertical axis, and the Order Date field (a continuous date dimension) on the Columns shelf creates a horizontal axis.

Note: For more information on formatting headers and field labels, see Format at the Worksheet Level and Format Fields and Field Labels. For details on continuous and discrete fields, see Dimensions and Measures, Blue and Green.

Edit an axis range

To edit an axis range, double-click the axis that you want to edit.

Note: In Tableau Desktop, you can right-click (control-click on Mac) the axis, and then select Edit Axis. In web authoring, you can click the arrow button on an axis, and then select Edit Axis.

When you select an axis, the marks associated with the axis are not selected so that you can edit and format the axis without modifying the marks.

To select the marks associated with the axis, right-click the axis and select Select Marks. You can also select each mark individually. For more information, see Select Marks.

Why can't I edit my axis?

If you can't edit an axis, it's most likely a header rather than axis.

  • Continuous fields (green background) on the Rows and Columns shelves create axes in the view. When you right-click an axis, you will see this menu:

  • Discrete fields (blue background) on the Rows and Columns shelves create headers, not axes. When you right-click a header, you will see this menu:

You can edit the formatting of headers by right-clicking a header, and then selecting Format.

For more details on formatting headers and field labels, see Format at the Worksheet Level and Format Fields and Field Labels. For details on continuous and discrete fields, see Dimensions and Measures, Blue and Green.

Hide and reshow axes and headers

If you have hidden an axis or a header in the view, you can show it again from its related field in the view.

To hide an axis

Right-click (control-click on Mac) the axis in the view, and then clear the check mark next to the Show Header option.

To show a previously hidden axis

Right-click (control-click on Mac) the continuous field in the view that is associated with axis you want to show, click its drop down menu, and then click Show Header.

For related details, see Axes in Parts of the View.

 

To hide a header

Right-click (control-click on Mac) a header in the view, and then clear the check mark next to the Show Header option.

To show previously hidden header

Right-click (control-click on Mac) the discrete field in the view that is associated with headers that you want to show, click its drop down menu, and then click Show Header.

For related details, see Headers in Parts of the View.

For details on continuous and discrete fields, see Dimensions and Measures, Blue and Green.

Change an axis range

You can limit the axis range to focus the view on certain data points.

For example, assume your view shows sales over four years. The automatic axis might show a range from 0 to $750,000. If sales never go below $470,000, you can adjust the axis range to start at $470,000 to keep the focus on where the data points actually lie.

To change an axis range:

  1. Double-click the axis that you want to edit. You can also right-click (control-click on Mac) the axis, and then select Edit Axis.

  2. In the Edit Axis dialog box, select one of the following options:

    • Automatic.Automatically bases the axis range on the data used in the view.

    • Uniform axis range for all rows or columns.Sets the axis range uniformly to the maximum data range for all panes in the view.

    • Independent axis ranges for each row or column. Makes the axis range independent. The axis range varies for each pane in the view, depending on the range of data in each pane.

    • Fixed. Specifies to start and/or end the axis at a specific value. You can fix both ends of the axis or only one end. When you fix both ends of the axis, the axis range is determined by the values you specify. When you fix only one end of the axis, you must set the other end of the axis as automatic, uniform, or independent.

  3. You can also specify whether to include zero. When you clear the Include zero check box, the axis range adjusts to show only the range of values in the data.

  4. Click OK.

Change the axis scale to reversed or logarithmic

Axis scale options include Reversed and Logarithmic.

When you select Logarithmic, you can then specify Positive or Symmetric. Symmetric displays data that contains positive, 0, or negative values on a log scale axis, and is best used to visualize large negative values on a logarithmic scale, as well as large positive values, or both. For related details, see About the symmetric log axis transform.

To change the scale of an axis:

  1. Double-click the axis that you want to edit. You can also right-click (control-click on Mac) the axis, and then select Edit Axis.

  2. In the Edit Axis dialog box, on the General tab, select Reversed or Logarithmic for the axis scale.

    The option to choose Symmetric or Positive is only available when the axis range extends outside of the closed interval [-10, 10].

    Logarithmic: Select Positive or Symmetric for the log scale. The Symmetric option displays data that contains positive, 0, and negative values on a log scale axis. By default, the tick marks are drawn at powers of ten, but you can specify any base that is greater than 1.

  3. Click the Tick Marks tab and select one of the following options:

    • Automatic - the major tick marks are drawn at powers of 10.

    • Fixed - the major tick marks are drawn at a specified exponent. Type a number into the Powers of text box.

    • None - major tick marks are not shown.

  4. When finished, click OK.

You can also reverse the axis by selecting Reverse in the Scale area on the General tab of the Edit Axis dialog box.

About the symmetric log axis transform

The symmetric log axis applies an area hyperbolic sine transform to the axis:

asinh(x) = ln(x + √(x^2 +1))

For large values (|x| >> 1),

asinh(x)~ln(x), x > 0

asinh(x)~-ln(x), x < 0

Because asinh is defined for all real values (negative numbers in particular) this transform allows you to visualize large negative values on a logarithmic scale, as well as large positive values, or both.

However, while a log axis can be used to visualize the scale of very small values, a symmetric log axis cannot be used to visualize the scale of very small values.

For small values (|x| < 1),

asinh(x) ≈ x

Using a symmetric log axis scale for small values has a similar effect to using a linear scale (i.e., a normal quantitative axis).

Change the appearance of an axis

Every axis has a title that is automatically generated based on the fields in the view. You can specify a custom axis title and add a subtitle using the Edit Axis dialog box. You can also specify the scale of the axis, such as whether to use a logarithmic scale or whether to reverse the axis.

To change the appearance of an axis:

  1. Right-click (control-click on Mac) on the axis that you want to edit and select Edit Axis.

  2. In the Edit Axis dialog box, type a new title in the Title text box.

  3. To add a custom subtitle, clear the Automatic check box.

  4. To change the scale of the axis, select one of the following options:

    • Reversed- select this option to reverse the order of values on the axis.

    • Logarithmic - select this option to use a logarithmic scale on the axis.

  5. Click OK.

Format tick marks

You can specify how often the tick marks are displayed along the axis. Tableau allows you to modify both the Major and Minor tick marks. Major tick marks are accompanied by unit labels while Minor tick marks simply represent smaller increments between the major marks. You can choose to use automatic or fixed tick marks or have none at all.

To format tick marks:

  1. Right-click (control-click on Mac) the axis you want to edit and select Edit Axis.

  2. In the Edit Axis dialog box, select the Tick Marks tab.

  3. For both Major and Minor tick marks, select from one of the following options:

    • Automatic - select this option to automatically show tick marks based on the data in the view.

    • Fixed - select this option to specify how often the tick mark should display and the starting value.

    • None - select this option to hide the tick marks completely.

  4. Click OK.

Examples: Use Different Axis Ranges (Uniform, Independent, Fixed)

In this example you will build three views using the same data. However, each view will use a different axis range format. These views use the Sample-Superstore data source to display the aggregated total sales for three product categories over the course of four years.

Build a view with a uniform axis range

A uniform axis range means that the same range is applied to each row or column in your view. The range is automatically generated based on the underlying data values.

  1. Place the Order Date dimension on the Columns shelf and the Category dimension on the Rows shelf.

  2. Place the Sales measure on the Rows shelf.

    The measure is automatically aggregated as a summation and an axis is added to the view. By default the view uses a uniform axis range. Notice that the axis range is the same, from zero to 250,000 for each product category.

    A graphic depicting a view whose axis is
along a uniform range.

Build a view using independent axis ranges

When you use an independent axis range, each row or column will have its own axis range based on the underlying data values.

  1. Right-click (control-click on Mac) the SUM(Sales) axis in the view and select Edit Axis.

  2. In the Edit Axis dialog box, select Independent axis ranges for each row or column.

  3. Click the X to close the dialog box with the current settings.

    The axis range for each product category are now independent from each other. The Technology and Office Supplies categories still range from zero to 250,000, but the Furniture category ranges from zero to a little over 200,000.

    A graphic depicting a view
whose axis is along an independent range.

Build a view using a fixed axis range

You can fix one or both ends of an axis in order to customize how much of the data you can see in the view.

The first example shows how to fix both ends of the axis. The second shows how to fix only one end of the axis, and then define the axis range for all panes in the view.

To fix both ends of the axis:

  1. Right-click (control-click on Mac) the SUM(Sales) axis in the view and select Edit Axis.

  2. In the Edit Axis dialog box, select Fixed, and then define Start and End values either by typing into the text boxes or by dragging the sliders toward each other. For this example, type 0 for Start and 200,000 for End.

    A graphic depicting the Format
Field dialog box for a measure. The Axis Range tab is selected so
you can define a fixed (custom) axis range.

  3. Click the X to close the dialog box with the current settings.

    The categories now display only up to $200,000 in sales. The axes are marked with a pin symbol , which indicates that you have limited the axis range and that some data might not be displayed.

    A graphic depicting a view
whose axis is along a fixed (custom) axis range.

To fix one end of the axis:

  1. Right-click (control-click on Mac) the SUM(Sales) axis in the view and select Edit Axis.

  2. In the Edit Axis dialog box , select Fixed, click the Fixed End drop-down menu, and then select Independent.

  3. Click the X to close the dialog box with the current settings.

    Notice that the categories now have slightly different axis ranges. For example, Office Supplies has an axis range from 0 to 250,000 dollars, while Furniture only has a range from 0 to 200,000 dollars.

    For more information about the difference between automatic, uniform, and independent axis ranges, see Edit Axes.

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