From Data to Discovery: How to Create Data Stories in Tableau

Since the beginning of human history, storytelling has been in existence, however, modern technology offers new ways to share stories, with Tableau stories being one of them where you can combine data analysis with storytelling to create engaging reports.

Tableau Data Stories, a powerful feature that combines both data analysis and storytelling, enables users to create engaging reports from raw data to drive better understanding and make informed business decisions.

In this article, I will explore everything you need to know how to Tableau data about stories, and how to create them.

Let’s get started.

What are Tableau Stories and Why are They Important?

Generally, stories guide us through a journey filled with emotions and experiences — tales of challenges, victories, love, and loss. However, for data professionals, Tableau offers a dynamic and modern way to tell stories.

Tableau is a great tool for visualizing and analyzing data and affords users to opportunity to easily communicate complex information, aiding data-driven decision-making.

Now, you may wonder, why Tableau stories when you can use PowerPoint or any other software. Well, there are many reasons. One is that, Tableau stories offer effective storytelling methods with seamless progression.

Also, Tableau stories convey vital insights, answering data questions through interconnected visuals. They transform data from just numbers into dynamic reports and facilitate a better understanding and connection with the insights they hold.

Finally, added to this are Tableau’s aesthetic designs that enhance the appeal of your story, emerging as a dynamic and captivating storytelling medium.

Creating Your Tableau Story: A Step-by-Step Guide

Creating your very Tableau story can be very interesting. In this section, I will walk you through the steps.

1. Open a New Story Tab

To start with, open Tableau and click on the “New Story” icon. Select “Story > New Story.” This will create a blank canvas where you can now create your story.

tableau data stories - monocroft

2. Add Worksheets or Dashboards

After creating a story tab, the next thing is to add worksheets and dashboards (on the left pane) by dragging and dropping the desired sheet onto the blank canvas. This is your first story point, a unit in your whole story.

3. Create Story Points

Now that you have added your first worksheet, the next thing is to create story points. These story points will serve as the basic components of your Tableau story, as they lead your audience through.

To create story points, you can either duplicate an existing one or start from scratch. When duplicating, it maintains all the details from the original story point, this includes charts, captions, and annotations.

To duplicate, right-click on the story point and select “Duplicate”.

4. Add Context with Captions

Now, to enhance your visuals and keep your audience better informed, you should add captions. Captions provide context and guide the understanding of your audience.

PS: Don’t forget to always keep your captions concise, with one or two sentences.

Just click the caption box, and write your desired caption.

5. Format Your Story

Finally, navigate to the menu bar and select “Story > Format” to modify the fonts, shading, alignment, and borders of your story elements, paying attention to your audience.

tableau data stories - monocroft

To remove certain elements, such as chart annotations, you can right-click on them and select “Remove.” You can also Click “X” on the story toolbar to delete.

Best Practices for Creating Effective Tableau Stories

Tableau storytelling is an endless journey, and for your story to stand out, there are some tips and best practices you must follow. They include:

1. Write Captivating Captions

To capture the attention of your audience, always make use of concise captions. These captions will serve as pointers, giving the audience a sense of what lies ahead.

2. Make Use of Annotations

Annotations are secret weapons that further aid viewer comprehension. They are usually put alongside key data points, clarifying trends, correlations, and anomalies that might not be easily understood.

Annotations can transform your visuals, ensuring your audience fully understands the data.

3. Enhancing Your Visualization

Visual appeal plays a crucial role in retaining your audience’s attention. Hence, dive deep into the Tableau formatting options, and adjust fonts to ensure legibility.

You can also try out different color shades to highlight data contrasts, align elements for a clean look, and add edges to make things clear.

4. Custom Resize for Universal Access

In storytelling, one size does not fit all. So, always optimize your story size by choosing the right dimensions that are suitable for your audience, whether it’s a high-resolution screen or a smaller device.

5. Keep Modifying to Create the Perfect Story

Creating a Tableau Story is a repetitive process. So, as you go, you must keep modifying elements to align with your ideal story.

If some charts or annotations no longer help the story make sense or have an impact, do not hesitate to take them out. This makes sure your story stays focused, clear, and impactful.

FAQs

Is it possible to create Tableau stories with any type of data?

Yes, Tableau allows you to work with different data types, including both structured and unstructured data, spreadsheets, databases, and even real-time data.

Do you need prior experience with Tableau to create Tableau stories?

While experience with Tableau can be helpful, it is not a prerequisite to creating stories in Tableau. This article caters for both beginners and experienced Tableau users.

How can I share my Tableau story with others?

To share your Tableau story, you can first publish your story to Tableau Public, and embed it in websites. You can also save it as a PDF or PowerPoint.

Just navigate to File > Save to Tableau Public, enter your credentials, and your story will be published.

Is it possible to add images to a Tableau story?

Yes, you can, but you can’t add it directly to a story. However, you can save an image on a dashboard, and then add the dashboard as a story point to include the image.

Are there disadvantages to using stories in Tableau?

Yes, while they are great for answering specific questions, the fact that they are static could limit their usefulness for tasks that require real-time insights.

Conclusion

Tableau Data Stories are great ways to convert raw data into compelling narratives that engage the audience, spark conversations, and enable informed decision-making.

Through the use of the right visuals, captions, and annotations, Tableau stories provide a means to convey complex information, uncover hidden insights, and answer crucial data questions.

So, embrace the possibilities, and let your data tell a story that resonates and inspires your audience!

If you enjoyed reading this article, you also read this guide to mastering aggregate functions in Tableau.

Thanks for reading!