Prepare Your Data for Tableau

A Practical Guide to the Tableau Data Prep Tool

  • Tim Costello
  • Lori Blackshear

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xvii
  2. Tim Costello, Lori Blackshear
    Pages 1-3
  3. Tim Costello, Lori Blackshear
    Pages 5-9
  4. Extract

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 11-11
    2. Tim Costello, Lori Blackshear
      Pages 13-26
    3. Tim Costello, Lori Blackshear
      Pages 27-51
    4. Tim Costello, Lori Blackshear
      Pages 53-76
  5. Transform

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 77-78
    2. Tim Costello, Lori Blackshear
      Pages 79-89
    3. Tim Costello, Lori Blackshear
      Pages 91-119
    4. Tim Costello, Lori Blackshear
      Pages 121-129
    5. Tim Costello, Lori Blackshear
      Pages 131-135
    6. Tim Costello, Lori Blackshear
      Pages 137-148
  6. Load

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 149-149
    2. Tim Costello, Lori Blackshear
      Pages 151-156
  7. Back Matter
    Pages 157-202

About this book


Focus on the most important and most often overlooked factor in a successful Tableau project—data. Without a reliable data source, you will not achieve the results you hope for in Tableau. This book does more than teach the mechanics of data preparation. It teaches you: how to look at data in a new way, to recognize the most common issues that hinder analytics, and how to mitigate those factors one by one.

Tableau can change the course of business, but the old adage of "garbage in, garbage out" is the hard truth that hides behind every Tableau sales pitch. That amazing sales demo does not work as well with bad data. The unfortunate reality is that almost all data starts out in a less-than-perfect state. Data prep is hard.

Traditionally, we were forced into the world of the database where complex ETL (Extract, Transform, Load) operations created by the data team did all the heavy lifting for us. Fortunately, we have moved past those days. With the introduction of the Tableau Data Prep tool you can now handle most of the common Data Prep and cleanup tasks on your own, at your desk, and without the help of the data team. This essential book will guide you through:

  • The layout and important parts of the Tableau Data Prep tool
  • Connecting to data
  • Data quality and consistency
  • The shape of the data. Is the data oriented in columns or rows? How to decide? Why does it matter?
  • What is the level of detail in the source data? Why is that important?
  • Combining source data to bring in more fields and rows
  • Saving the data flow and the results of our data prep work
  • Common cleanup and setup tasks in Tableau Desktop

You will:

  • Recognize data sources that are good candidates for analytics in Tableau
  • Connect to local, server, and cloud-based data sources
  • Profile data to better understand its content and structure
  • Rename fields, adjust data types, group data points, and aggregate numeric data
  • Pivot data
  • Join data from local, server, and cloud-based sources for unified analytics
  • Review the steps and results of each phase of the Data Prep process
  • Output new data sources that can be reviewed in Tableau or any other analytics tool


Tableau Tableau Data Cleanup Tableau Data Prep Tableau Data Aggregations Tableau Data Profiling Tableau Joins Tableau Unions Tableau Prep Flow Tableau Packaged Data Flow Tableau Data Extract Tableau Hyper Extract

Authors and affiliations

  • Tim Costello
    • 1
  • Lori Blackshear
    • 2
  1. 1.EulessUSA
  2. 2.Fort WorthUSA

Bibliographic information