Understanding Dual Axis Charts in Tableau: A Guide

One of the best features of Tableau is its ability to create dual-axis charts, allowing users to overlay two different measures on a single visualization. With this, you can compare two related variables simultaneously.

In this guide, I will walk you through how to create dual-axis charts in Tableau, equipping you with the expertise needed to leverage dual-axis charts for insightful and effective visualizations.

Let’s get started!

Introduction: What are Dual Axis Charts in Tableau?

Dual-axis charts are a powerful feature in Tableau, allowing you to combine two separate chart types in the same visual. Basically, it’s like a two-in-one chart – one chart, on the primary axis, and the other, on the secondary axis.

Why Use Dual Axis Charts?

There are different reasons why dual-axis charts are used. They include:

  • To compare related data: With dual-axis charts, you can easily compare two related datasets, for instance, revenue and profit, on a single chart, to provide a clear visual correlation.
  • To visualize different units: Your data may have measures with different units (e.g., sales in euros and units sold). Dual-axis charts can help display the data properly on a shared axis.
  • To highlight trends: Also, dual-axis charts can help to highlight trends or patterns that might be hidden in single-axis charts. This allows for a more comprehensive view of your data.

How to Create a Dual Axis Chart in Tableau in Steps

Now that you understand what dual-axis charts in Tableau are and why it is important, let’s explore how to create them:

Step 1: Connect to Data and Create a Basic Chart

Open your Tableau and import your data source. You can then drag and drop a dimension and measure into the Columns and Rows, to create a basic chart. For instance, you can create a bar chart to visualize gross sales over time.

Step 2: Add another Measure

To add a second measure, simply drag another measure to the “Rows” shelf. You may want to overlay profit on the existing sales chart.

Tableau will automatically generate a second graph, which makes it technically a dual-axis chart, but not a dual-axis combination chart.

NB: You can have up to four stacked axes: two on the Columns shelf and two on the Rows shelf.

Step 3: Create Dual Axis and Synchronize

Now, to create the dual axis, right-click the “Rows” shelf and select “Dual axis”. Tableau will automatically create a dual-axis chart, (as displayed below).

Now to align the axes, just right-click on the second axis and select “Synchronize Axis.”

synchronizing dual axis in tableau

Step 4: Customize and Format

You can then further customize your dual-axis chart by testing with different colors, labels, tooltips, etc.

You may also want to try out other chart types like a bar chart or a line chart for each measure. Add labels and legends to make your dual-axis chart more informative.

Best Practices for Effectively Using Dual-Axis Charts in Tableau

To effectively create dual-axis charts, the following are some tips and best practices you should keep in mind:

Simplify dual-axis charts

It is important to always keep your dual-axis charts simple to ensure clarity. Avoid cluttering your charts with unnecessary data points, as this may confuse your audience.

Focus on highlighting the key insights you want to convey, making it easier for the audience to understand the key message and draw significant conclusions from the visual.

Select appropriate chart types

Choosing the right chart types is also very important. Hence, you must consider the nature of your data and the relationship you want to illustrate.

For example, if you are comparing two measures over time, line charts might be suitable, but if you want to show the distribution of two different variables; a combination of a bar chart and a scatter plot might be more suitable.

Hence, understanding the pros and cons of different chart types will help you select the most appropriate ones for your dual-axis charts in Tableau.

Synchronize axes

To make your dual-axis charts more interactive and dynamic, you can use the “Synchronize Axis” option. This allows your audience to explore the relationship between the two measures and gain further insights.

Using reference lines and bands

To provide additional context and comparative data in your dual-axis chart, you can leverage the power of reference lines and bands in Tableau.

These tools allows you to draw horizontal, vertical, or trend lines that serve as indactors for understanding your data.

With this, you can highlight important thresholds, trends, or comparisons, making it easier for your audience to identify key insights.

FAQs: Understanding Dual Axis Charts in Tableau

What are the benefits of using dual-axis?

Dual-axis charts offer several benefits, such as easy comparison of two different measures on separate axes, enhanced visual impact, and storytelling capabilities, making complex data more accessible and engaging, etc.

Are there instances where dual-axis charts are not recommended in Tableau?

Yes, dual-axis charts are not ideal for unrelated datasets. They are mostly effective when comparing measures that are logically correlated.

What should I consider when customizing dual-axis charts?

You should focus on color, labels, tooltips, and legends to ensure clarity and understanding in your visual when customizing dual-axis charts.

Is it possible to create dual-axis charts with more than two measures in Tableau?

Yes, you can create dual-axis charts with more than two measures by repeating the process explained in this article. However, be careful not to make the chart too complex.

Are there alternatives to dual-axis charts in Tableau?

Yes, alternatives to dual-axis charts may include using small multiples, creating dashboards, or using blended axis charts. You can choose the method that best suits your visualization needs.


Creating dual axis charts in Tableau can greatly enhance your data visualization capabilities. With this, you can uncover hidden data insights, relationships, and trends.

By following this guide, you are on your way to mastering dual-axis charts and how they can aid your visualizations.

Finally, remember that ractice makes perfect. So, experiment with different chart types and datasets to fully harness the full potential of dual axis charts in Tableau.

For further reading, youIf you enjoyed reading this, you may also read the tips for creating engaging and interactive dashboards in Tableau.

Thanks for reading!