How to Create and Use Parameters in Tableau? A Comprehensive Guide 101

Harsh Varshney • Last Modified: December 29th, 2022

Parameters in Tableau FI

Almost all businesses today, regardless of their market position or size, use Business Intelligence solutions to evaluate their business and customer data and, as a result, make smarter and more informed business decisions that help them grow and profit. Businesses can use Business Intelligence tools to visualize their data in the form of Dashboards in order to acquire Insights and increase Revenue.

In today’s market, there are a plethora of Business Intelligence products to choose from. Tableau is a well-known program that is utilized by practically every department in a company, including Product, Marketing, and Finance. This article will help you understand the various Parameters in Tableau.

Table of Contents

What is Tableau?

Parameters in Tableau: logo
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Tableau is a prominent Business Intelligence and Data Analytics application that was created to assist organizational decision-makers in visualizing, analyzing, and understanding complicated business data so that they can make data-driven decisions. It may be used to generate a variety of interactive displays and extract useful information. Tableau was founded in 2003 as part of a computer science project at Stanford with the purpose of enhancing the flow of any data analysis and making data more accessible and clear to people through simple visuals.

VizQL, a key Tableau technology, allows users to graphically express data by converting drag-and-drop actions into data queries via a user-friendly interface. Chris Stolte, Pat Hanrahan, and Christian Chabot, Tableau’s co-founders, invented and patented it.

Businesses of various kinds and scales rely on Tableau and other Business Intelligence solutions to evaluate their data. Tableau Visualizations are used by large-scale companies like Unilever, which sells 400+ different kinds of products in 190+ countries, as well as small-scale local businesses like Marination, an Asian-Hawaiian food truck cafe in Seattle.

Tableau Public is a free version that complements the company’s premium products and services, which include Tableau Desktop, Tableau Server, Tableau Online, and Tableau Reader.

Key Features of Tableau

  • Tableau allows you to ask natural language inquiries about your data.
  • It connects with data stored on-premises as well as data stored in the cloud.
  • It connects to any Cloud-based platform, such as Salesforce and Google Analytics, as well as SQL-based databases (MySQL, PostgreSQL, MariaDB, MongoDB, etc).
  • Tableau has a drag-and-drop interface that is easy to use.
  • Tableau makes combining data from several sources a breeze.
  • For studying and identifying Data Trends, Tableau provides a number of visualization options.
  • Tableau allows you to create Interactive Dashboards and share them with both internal and external stakeholders.

For further information on Tableau, check out the official website here.

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What are Parameters in Tableau? 

Parameters in Tableau are workbook variables such as a number, date, or a calculated field that allow users to change a constant value in a calculation, filter, or reference line.

For instance, the user can construct a new calculated field that returns True if the total mark aggregate is greater than 90% and False if it is less than 90%. Users can change the constant value “90 percent” in the formula with Tableau settings according to their needs. Users can dynamically change the threshold values in their calculations using parameter control.

Now you have a basic understanding of Parameters in Tableau. Let’s go on to learning how Parameters in Tableau are constructed.

How to create Parameters in Tableau?

The following steps need to be followed to create Parameters in Tableau:

Step 1: Navigating to Create Parameter

Click the drop-down arrow in the top right corner of the Data pane to Create a Parameter. From the drop-down menu, choose Create Parameter.

Parameters in Tableau Create: Step 1
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Step 2: Adding Data Types

A window called Create Parameter will appear. You can give the Parameter a name, select its Data Type, set the current value, permitted values, and so on from this box.

Parameters in Tableau Create: Step 2a
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As seen in the screenshot below, you may select a Data Type from the list of available data types.

Parameters in Tableau Create: Step 2b
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Step 3: Selecting Display Format

For the parameter you’re generating, you can additionally choose a display format. Number, Currency, Scientific, Percentage, Automatic, Custom, and more formats are provided.

Parameters in Tableau Create: Step 3
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Step 4: Selecting Allowable Values

There are three possibilities for Allowable values under the next tab: All, List, and Range. This means that you can either select all of the values in a field and make a parameter, or you can select all of the values in a field and create a variable. Alternatively, you can have a list of values from the field, or you can specify a range within which you want values in the parameter.

Parameters in Tableau Create: Step 4a
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Let’s say you want to use the Add from field option to add field values to our parameter. From your choice of fields, you choose the field Sub-category.

The List of values section displays a list of all the values in a field. You can delete field values by clicking the cross (⨯) icon next to them. Click OK once you’ve finished selecting or removing values from the field.

Parameters in Tableau Create: Step 4b
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Step 5: Checking the Newly Created Parameter

As a result, the newly created parameter “Top 10 Brands” appears in the Parameters section on the bottom left of the page.

Parameters in Tableau Create: Step 5
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You can even build a Dynamic Parameter that is specified to automatically refresh its current value, list of values (depending on a data source column), or range of values. When you open the workbook and Tableau connects to the data source specified by the parameter, or when you click Refresh from the data source’s context menu, this will happen.

By using Parameter Actions, you can make your parameters more dynamic and reactive. When your audience interacts directly with a viz, such as by clicking or selecting a mark, they can modify the value of a parameter.

How to use Parameters in Tableau?

The Parameters in Tableau can be used in the following manners: 

1) Use a Parameter in a Filter

Parameters in Tableau allow you to change values in a Top N filter on the fly. You can use a parameter instead of manually setting the number of values you wish to show in the filter. Then you open the Parameter Control and the Filter Updates when you wish to alter the value. You might want to use a parameter instead of the fixed “10” number when establishing a filter to show the Top 10 goods based on total earnings. You may easily change the filter to show the top 10, 20, or 30 products this way.

On the Top Tab of the Filter dialogue box, there are drop-down lists with a list of options. Choose the Filter parameter you want to use.

Parameters in Tableau Use: Filter 1
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Right-click the parameter in the Data Pane and select Show Parameter to see the Parameter Control. Modify the filter using the Parameter Control to show the top 10 products, 15 products, 20 products, and so on.

Parameters in Tableau Use: Filter 2
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2) Use a Parameter in a Calculation

Parameters allow you to change the values in computations on the fly. You can use a parameter instead of manually modifying the computation (and all dependent calculations). Then, when you want to modify the value, you open the parameter control, make the adjustment, and all calculations that use that parameter are changed.

Drag a parameter from the Data Pane into the Calculation Editor to use it in a calculation, either at a new spot in the formula or to replace a part of the current formula:

Parameters in Tableau Use: Calculation
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3) Use a Parameter in a Reference Line

Parameters allow you to change a reference line, band, or box dynamically. You can, for example, reference a parameter instead of a reference line at a defined place on the axis. The reference line can then be moved using the Parameter Control.

The Value drop-down list in the Add Reference Line, Band, or Box dialogue box contains a set of parameters. Choose the parameter you’d like to utilize.

Parameters in Tableau Use: Reference Line
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The parameter’s Current Value is used to draw the reference line. Right-click (Control-click on a Mac) the parameter in the Data pane and select Show Parameter to open the parameter control. To modify the location of the reference line, use the Parameter Control.


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