Connected Waterfall Charts

Apr 30, 2019

Klaus Schulte

Today my students and I practiced a waterfall chart – a chart type you just have to know when you want become an accountant 🙂

While practicing I brought up the idea of a connected waterfall chart, something I did for the first time in a #makeovermonday some weeks ago (click for the interactive version on Tableau Public).

Superstore Furniture Profits 2018

Most of all I just like the visual effect of connecting the bars. But furthermore there is a nice side effect in bringing in a second axis, being able to label the bars at different positions.

So here’s a quick how-to:

1. Create a Waterfall Chart

Most of you might have seen many times before how to create a waterfall chart:

Tableau - Book1 2019-04-30 13-35-27.jpg

I filtered down my data to 2018 and to furnitures. On rows I put running total of sum(profits) and chose gantt bars from the marks card. The size of the gantt bars is the negative value of sum(profit) for each month.

2. Create a Step Line Chart

Second steps are to duplicate the running total of sum(profit), change the mark type to line chart, and to choose the stepped type under path.

Monosnap 2019-04-30 13-42-07.jpg

3. Dual Axis

After creating the dual axis your waterfall should look something like this.

Tableau - Book1 2019-04-30 13-45-18.jpg

To hide the line chart I changed the pills on rows, set down the size of the line chart to minimum and set a border for the bars in the same color.

4. Labels

Having two axes we are now able to label the bars at different positions by just creating two simple formulas like here shown for negative profits:

Dialog 2019-04-30 14-11-36

I labelled positive profits at the top of the bars and negative profits at the bottoms.

In case that your are not a fan of my connected waterfalls, just set down the opacity of the line chart to zero and you can keep the side effect of more labelling flexibiltiy.

Tableau - Book1 2019-04-30 13-50-41.jpg

I hope you enjoyed reading!


Sep 27, 2019, 9:18:59 PM
Rachel says:

Thank you so much for this. Please keep the accounting visualizations coming!