What are Tableau Sets and How to create them: A Definitive Guide

Sharon Rithika • Last Modified: December 29th, 2022

Tableau Sets FI

Tableau Sets are custom fields that are created based on dimensions from your data source. They are data subsets that can be manually constructed or computed. Conditional logic can be used to identify what is included or excluded from a set using either dimensions or measures.

This article dives into what Tableau Sets are, the different types, and how to create them. It also covers how to use sets in visualization and the different set actions performed. Further, you learn how to combine Tableau sets.

Table of Contents

What is Tableau?

In the Business Intelligence Industry, Tableau is a strong and rapidly developing data visualization application. It aids in the simplification of raw data into a format that is simple to comprehend. Tableau assists in the creation of data that is understandable by experts at all levels of a company. Non-technical people can easily develop customized dashboards. With Tableau, data analysis is quick, and visuals are created in the form of dashboards and workbooks.

Key Features of Tableau

  • Usability: It is easy to access and doesn’t need any prior technical or programming knowledge. It has a quick response for making a dashboard.
  • Easy Access and Analysis: It is available for download on mobile devices and desktops. It has a multilingual representation of data and real-time exploration.
  • Connection and Sharing: It has many advanced features such as:
    • Collaboration and distribution of data
    • Highly secure
    • Connection with multiple data sources 
    • Import/Export of massive amounts of data is easy.

What are Tableau Sets?

Tableau Sets: tableau logo
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Tableau Sets can be used in a variety of ways. Highlighting data that meet particular criteria, evaluating manually selected members of a dimension, comparing and contrasting members in the set vs. those who aren’t (IN/OUT), constructing combined tableau sets, and much more are just a few of the use cases. For example, you can make a list of geographies that have been identified as strategically significant to your company, or a list of the least lucrative goods.

Tableau Sets are custom fields that are used to keep a subset of data based on a condition. You can create a set in real-time by picking members from a list or a visualization. You can perform the same thing by writing custom conditions or selecting a few records from the top or bottom of a Measure.

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How to Create Tableau Sets?

Two types of set creations are going to be explained below:

Tableau Sets Types: Create Dynamic Sets

The members of a Dynamic Set change when the set data changes. They only have one single dimension.

Follow the steps to create a Dynamic Tableau Set:

  • Step 1: Go to Data Pane, select Dimensions, and then click on Create > Set.
  • Step 2: In the Create Set box, configure the dimensions according to the below parameters:
    • General: Use this parameter to select one or more values that will be considered while computing the set.

You can also use the Use All option to select all the values. This works even if you add or remove values from the set.

  • Condition: This tab is used to define rules that decide which values need to be included in the set. For example, you could create a condition based on total sales that only contains products with sales of $100,000 or more.
  • Top: This parameter is used to set limits on what values need to be included. For example, you could set a limit based on total sales that consider only the top 5 product based on sales.
  • Step 3: Once you finish setting all the parameters, click on OK. The new set is added to the Data Pane under Sets. A set icon is seen (two intersecting circles). This indicates that the field is now a set.

Tableau Sets Types: Create Fixed Sets

Unlike the Dynamic Set, values of a Fixed Set do not change. They can either be single-dimensional or multi-dimensional.

To create a Fixed Set, follow these steps:

  • Step 1: Select one or more markers in the visualization.
  • Step 2: Right-click on the marks and select Create Set.
  • Step 3: Type a name for your set in the Create Set dialogue box.
  • Step 4: The following steps are optional:
    • The default setting is to select all the members of the set. You can exclude certain members too. When you use the Exclude option, the set will include all the members you didn’t choose to be excluded.
    • You can remove any dimensions that you don’t want. You can hover over the column heading and click on the red X that appears.
    • Similarly, you can remove any rows that you don’t want. Hover over the row and click on the red X.
    • If you chose multiple dimensions for your markings, each member of the set will be a combination of those dimensions. The character that separates the dimension values can be specified. To do this, for Separate Members By, choose a character.
    • Once the set is formed, select Add to Filters shelf to add it to the Filters shelf automatically.
  • Step 5: When all of these steps are complete, click OK.

How to Use Tableau Sets in a Visualization?

After you’ve created a set, it’ll appear in the Sets area at the bottom of the Data window. It can be dragged into any visualization just like any other field. You can select to show the members of a set or aggregate the members into In/Out categories when you drag a set to visualization in Tableau Desktop. In Tableau Server, the members of the set can only be grouped into In/Out categories.

Show In/Out Members in a Tableau Set

When you drag a set to the visualization, Tableau displays it in In/Out mode in most circumstances. This mode divides the set into two groups:

  • The members of the set are referred to as “In”.
  • Members that aren’t a part of the group are referred to as “Out”.

For example, in a set defined for the top 25 customers, the top customers would be in the In category, while the rest of the customers would be in the Out category.

It’s simple to compare the members of the set to everything else when you use the In/Out mode.

To show In/Out members in a Tableau Set:

  • Right-click the set in the visualization workspace in Tableau Desktop and choose Show In/Out of Set.

Show Members in a Tableau Set

You can list the members of the set instead of utilizing In/Out mode to display it. Showing the set’s members immediately adds a filter to the view that only shows the set’s members.

To list the individual members of a set you can Right-click the set in the visualization workspace and choose Show Members in Set.

Understanding Set Actions in Tableau Sets

Set Actions alter the values of an existing set in response to a user action in the visualization. You can define the scope of the Set Action as the author by using a set or sets that you have already established.

Set Actions could be used to allow your audience to engage with your visualization, including your dashboard, directly. It allows them to exert greater control over some areas of their research.

You can now provide the following as part of the set action:

  • It applies to one or more source sheets.
  • The operation is initiated by the user’s behavior (hover, select, or menu).
  • Set of goals (the data source and set to be used).
  • What happens when a selection is cleared.

Create Set Actions

Follow the steps given below to create a Set Action:

  • Step 1: Select Worksheet >Actions from a worksheet. Select Dashboard >Actions from a dashboard.
  • Step 2: Click “Add Action” in the Actions dialogue box, then select Change Set Values.
  • Step 3:To create a set action, click the Add Action button and select the Change Set Values action from the Actions dialogue box.
  • Step 4: In the Add/Edit Set Action dialogue box, give the action a descriptive name.
  • Step 5: Choose a data source or a source sheet. By default, the current sheet is picked. You can pick and choose individual sheets inside a data source or dashboard.
  • Step 6: The Add or Edit Set Action dialogue box displays several set action settings.
  • Step 7: Choose how users will act.
    • Hover: Runs when the mouse cursor hovers over a mark in the display.
    • Select: Runs when the user clicks on a mark.
    • Menu: Runs when the user selects the mark and then an option on the context menu.
  • Step 8: The target set must be specified. Select the data source first, and then the set. The tableau sets that are available in the Target Set Lists are defined by the data source that you choose and the sets that are connected with that data source in the workbook.
  • Step 9: The Add or Edit Set Action dialogue box displays several set action settings.
  • Step 10: Specify what occurs when the view’s selection is cleared:
    • Keep set values to ensure that the set’s current values are preserved.
    • All potential values are added to the set when you add all values to it.
    • Remove all values from the set clears the set of previously selected values.
  • Step 11: To save your changes and return to the display, click OK.
  • Step 12: Interact with the visualization to test the set action. Adjust the selection behavior by adjusting certain of the action’s variables as appropriate.

Here are a few ways you can use set actions:

  • Proportional Brushing: It is a method of interacting with data. Instead of filtering other views when you pick some marks in one, the other views show the proportion of the selected items in respect to all items.
  • Asymmetric Drill Downs: For more complicated interactions, Set Actions can be employed across many tableau sets. Drilling down the hierarchy expands all values at a given level if a data collection provides hierarchical information, such as Category, Sub-Category, and Manufacturer.
  • Colour Scaling: Outliers in a graphic can typically alter color values. Based on the option in the visualization, a set action can update the values in a set. 
  • Relative Dates: Multiple relative date computations are used in this dashboard sample. The dashboard shows the difference from the previous day, the % change from the same month the previous year, and the Year to Date sales for the current year and the previous year based on a goal date. When a user clicks a mark on a timeline, the set action in this dashboard updates the target date and associated date calculations.

How to Combine Tableau Sets?

To compare the members, you can merge two tableau sets. When you merge sets, you get a new set with all of the members, simply the members that are in both sets, or members that are in one set but not the other. You can answer difficult questions and compare cohorts of your data by combining sets.

Note: Two sets must be based on the same dimensions to be combined.

Follow the steps given below:

  • Step 1: Select the two sets you want to combine in the Data pane’s Sets section.
  • Step 2: Create a combined set by right-clicking the sets and selecting Create Combined Set.
  • Step 3: Do the following in the Create Set dialogue box:
    • Give the new combined set a name.
    • In the two drop-down lists, make sure the two sets you want to combine are chosen.
    • Choose one of the following methods for combining the sets.
      • All Members from Both Sets: The merged set will include all members from both sets.
      • Shared Members from Both Sets: The merged set will only include members from both sets.
      • Except for Shared Members: the combined set will include all members from the given set who do not appear in the second set. Subtracting one set from another is the equivalent of these possibilities. If the first set comprises Apples, Oranges, and Pears, and the second set has Pears and Nuts, merging the first set except for the shared members would yield only Apples and Oranges. Pears has been omitted from the list because it appears in the second set.
    • If the sets represent different dimensions, you can optionally include a character to separate the members.
  • Step 4: When you’re done, click OK.

Applications of Tableau Sets

Sets can be used in a variety of ways to answer difficult queries and compare data cohorts.

What are the several ways that members of a set contribute to the total?

You can have a lot of questions about how the members of a group contribute to the total. For example, calculating percentage of overall sales comes from recurring consumers, you can use the IN/OUT mode for a set to answer these types of questions.

How many members of one set are found in another?

Sets are also commonly used to compare subsets of data or cohorts. For example, you might be curious as to how many clients who bought last year also bought this year. Calculating additional products bought by a buyer and the specific product bought by them. These types of queries can be answered by merging multiple sets of data.

Descendants and hierarchical sets

A hierarchical set restricts data to the members of the set and their descendants. They are only found in multidimensional (cube) data sources and must be configured before connecting to Tableau Desktop.


Tableau Sets are dynamic and valuable features that you may employ to give your report more interaction and versatility. It’s a powerful tool in your arsenal that can be used for both calculations and visualizations. In this article, you learned about Tableau Sets, the different types, and how to create and use them. 

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