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How to Add Filter in Tableau Dashboard

16 August 2023

How to Add Filter in Tableau Dashboard


Tableau is one of the most popular business intelligence and data visualisation platforms used today. It allows you to connect to data, build interactive dashboards, and gain insights through analytics.

A key feature in Tableau is the ability to filter your data. Adding filters to a Tableau dashboard allows you to focus on particular data points, highlight key trends and patterns, and simplify complex views for clearer analysis.

In this step-by-step guide, you'll learn how to add and configure filters in Tableau dashboards. We'll cover the basics of filter shelves, settings, actions and customisations. Follow along to see how filters can be used to create more effective Tableau visualisations.

This material is taken from JBI Trainings tableau training. 


Before you can start adding filters to a dashboard, you need to complete these preparatory steps in Tableau:

  • Install Tableau Desktop - Filters can only be added through the desktop application, so you need to have the latest version installed.
  • Connect to a data source - This can be anything from an Excel spreadsheet to a SQL database. You need to have a data source connected to access fields.
  • Build an initial dashboard - Create your initial sheets, charts and dashboards in Tableau first. Filters come after.

Once you've completed these three prerequisites, you're ready to start adding filters to enhance your Tableau dashboard.

Step 1: Add a Filter Shelf

The first step is to actually add a filter shelf to your Tableau dashboard. This is where your filters will reside.

To add a filter shelf:

  1. In your Tableau dashboard, click the "Drop filter fields here" area, which is in the top right of the screen.
  2. Drag and drop the field you want to filter onto this shelf. For example, you may want to filter by Year or Country.
  3. When you drop the field, a filter icon will appear. This indicates the filter shelf has been added.
The Filters shelf - Tableau Desktop Certified Associate: Exam Guide [Book]


Now that the filter shelf is in place, you can start configuring the filter.

Step 2: Configure the Filter

Once your filter shelf is added, you can customise the filter settings. There are a few key options:

  • Filter type - Choose from types like single value, range, wildcard match and more.
  • Included values - Specify which options to show users in the filter.
  • Titles and formatting - Customize the filter title and field formatting.

For example, for a Year filter you may choose a range type. You can specify a start and end year, and turn on inclusive/exclusive filtering.

Give your filter a title like "Filter by Year" and format the field display as a 4-digit integer. These configuration settings will tailor the filter to your needs.

Step 3: Apply the Filter

Now comes the important part - using the filter to analyse your data!

Applying a filter is easy:

  • For a single value filter, simply click on a value, e.g. a specific Year or Country.
  • For a range, modify the start and end values. Drag sliders or enter dates/numbers.
  • The dashboard visualisations will dynamically filter as you adjust the settings.

Notice how the charts, maps, tables etc. change as you filter different dimensions like dates, regions or products. This allows you to focus your analysis on particular data points.

Step 4: Customise the Filter (Optional)

For further customisations, you can tweak the filter appearance and layout in Tableau. Useful options include:

  • Show/hide toggle for single value filters.
  • Make filters float for constant access when scrolling.
  • Change text size, padding and background.
  • Adjust positioning and layering of filters.


Filters are invaluable for creating effective Tableau dashboards. They allow you to ask deeper questions of your data by narrowing analysis to specific data points.

As we've learnt, it's a straightforward process:

  1. Add filter shelf
  2. Configure filter settings
  3. Apply filter actions
  4. Customise filter appearance

Using filters results in actionable and focused Tableau dashboards. Encourage your team to constantly use filters to uncover richer insights from data analytics.

Now that you're familiar with filters, you may also want to learn how to build better Tableau dashboards with techniques like small multiples, floating legends and tooltips. Apply the knowledge from this guide to make an impact with your data visualisation and analysis.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the benefits of using filters in Tableau?

Filters allow you to narrow down large datasets to focus on specific data points, highlight key trends and patterns, simplify complex dashboards for clearer analysis, and enable users to self serve analytics.

When should I use filters versus selections in Tableau?

Selections are applied temporarily to highlight data. Filters are applied permanently until changed - this focuses the entire dashboard on filtered data. Use selections for one-time analysis and filters for ongoing focus.

What filter types are available in Tableau?

Tableau has several filter types including single value, range, relative date, wildcard match, top/bottom and more. Choose the filter that best suits your data types and analytical needs.

Can I customise the appearance and layout of filters?

Yes, Tableau offers extensive customisation of filter appearance and layout. You can adjust sizing, text, colours, layering, positioning and more.

How do I make filters always visible in Tableau?

Right click the filter and select “Float” to make the filter persist when scrolling down a dashboard. This keeps filters constantly accessible for users.

This article is part of a series of How To Guides from JBI Training, you might like to read how to concatenate in tableau. These articles are part of our commitment to provide the most comprehensive tableau training feel free to contact us with any training requirements or if you'd like to suggest a particular topic or 'how to guide' please drop us an email. 

About the author: Daniel West
Tech Blogger & Researcher for JBI Training

+44 (0)20 8446 7555

[email protected]



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