Understanding Tableau String Functions – Tips and Tricks

If you want to take your Tableau skills to the next level, you must learn string functions in Tableau – functions used to manipulate and transform text data.

In this article, I will explore string functions in Tableau – from basic string functions such as LEFT, RIGHT, MID, etc., to advanced string functions like REPLACE, TRIM, FINDTH, CONCATENATE, etc.

I will also cover various techniques to help you streamline your workflow and give practical examples to help you make the most of string functions in Tableau.

Let’s get started!

String Functions in Tableau and Their Uses

String functions in Tableau allow for the manipulation, analysis, and transformation of text data. These functions operate on strings – sequences of characters – and offer vast functionalities like combining multiple strings, removing unwanted characters, etc.

Also, string functions in Tableau help to improve data quality, as they are crucial to cleaning and normalizing data by removing leading or trailing spaces, converting text to lowercase or uppercase, replacing specific characters, and so on.

Furthermore, string functions in Tableau allow for advanced pattern-matching and text-searching functions. This can be useful when dealing with unstructured data, such as text documents or social media posts.

Finally, the uses of string functions in Tableau and many more are vast and can significantly enhance your data analysis capabilities.

Common String Functions in Tableau

Tableau offers various string functions. Below are some of the most commonly used ones:

1. CONCAT: This function is used to concatenate (combine) two or more strings into a single string. It is mostly used when merging two or more columns or creating custom labels for data points in a visualization.

For example, you can use CONCAT([First Name], ' ', [Last Name]) to create a full name by combining the first name and last name columns, while ' ' is to keep a space between them.

2. LEFT/RIGHT: These functions are used to extract a specified number of characters from the left or right side of a string. They are helpful when working with fixed-length data or when you need to extract a specific part of a string.

For instance, you can use LEFT([Phone Number], 3) to extract the area code from a phone number.

3. FIND/SEARCH: These functions are used to find the position of a specific substring within a string. They are handy for locating specific patterns or characters within text data.

For example, FIND('@', [Email]) can be used to find the position of the '@' symbol in an email address.

4. UPPER/LOWER/PROPER: These functions are used to change the capitalization of a string.

  • UPPER converts the string to uppercase
  • LOWER converts it to lowercase
  • PROPER capitalizes the first letter of each word

For instance, UPPER([City]) can be used to convert all city names to uppercase for consistent formatting.

5. REPLACE: This function is useful for data cleaning to replace certain text patterns.

For example, the function REPLACE([Description], 'n/a', 'Not available') can be used to replace occurrences of 'n/a' in a description column with 'Not available'

Advanced String Functions in Tableau and Their Uses

While popular string functions like LEFT, RIGHT, and MID are mainly for basic use, Tableau also offers advanced string functions to offer more customization options, helping you take your analysis to the next level. Let’s explore five of them:

1. FINDNTH: This function helps you find the position of the nth occurrence of a substring within a string.

For instance, the function FINDNTH([Text], 'apple', 3) returns the position of the third occurrence of 'apple' in the text.

2. STARTSWITH: This function checks if a particular string starts with a specific substring and then returns true if the string starts with the provided substring while ignoring any leading white spaces.

For example, STARTSWITH("John", "Jo") = true checks if the string “John” starts with the substring "Jo" and since “John” begins with “Jo”, the result of the expression will be true.

3. LTRIM/TRIM/RTRIM: These strings help to remove whitespace from strings. Below is an explanation of how they work:

  1. LTRIM (Left Trim): This function removes the leading whitespace (spaces, tabs, or other whitespace characters) from the beginning (left side) of a string.
    • For example, LTRIM(" Text") would remove the leading spaces and return “Text”.
  2. RTRIM (Right Trim): This removes trailing whitespace (spaces, tabs, or other whitespace characters) from the end (right side) of a string.
    • For example, RTRIM("Text ") would remove the trailing spaces and return “Text”.
  3. TRIM: TRIM removes both leading and trailing whitespace from a string.
    • For example, TRIM(" Text ") will remove both the leading and trailing spaces and return “Text”.

By leveraging these advanced string functions and many more, you can streamline your workflow and perform complex data modifications with ease.

Optimizing String Functions in Tableau: Tips and Tricks

While string functions in Tableau offer robust capabilities for data manipulation and analysis, it is important to optimize its usage to ensure maximum efficiency. Below are tips that can help you make the most of string functions:

1. Limit the number of string function calls: String functions can be resource-intensive, particularly with large datasets. Therefore, to improve performance, reduce the usage of string function calls in your calculations.

2. Only use when necessary: While string functions provide multiple functionalities, it is important to use them only when necessary, and apply them to relevant data subsets.

3. Always review your calculations: Do not forget to always review and optimize your calculations. This helps you identify calculations that consume significant amounts of resources.

4. Consider data preparation outside of Tableau: In some cases, it may be more efficient to perform data preparation tasks regarding string functions outside of Tableau. Use tools like Python or SQL and import them back into Tableau for further analysis and visualizations.

5. Take advantage of Tableau data source capabilities: Tableau data source capabilities such as data integration and extraction can also enhance the performance of string functions.

By following these tips and tricks, you must be sure to have optimized your Tableau for practical string functions to improve data analysis and enhance workflow.

NB: Always prioritize data quality and performance when working with string functions, as they lead to more accurate and insightful analysis results.


In conclusion, understanding and leveraging string functions in Tableau can greatly enhance your data analysis and visualization capabilities, as these functions can help to better manipulate and analyze text.

By mastering Tableau’s string functions, you can be sure to unlock the full potential of your data, improve its accuracy, and create engaging visualizations and reports!

If you enjoyed reading this, you can also check out these top Tableau certification programs to boost your data analysis and visualization skills

Thanks for reading!