Tableau Sankey Diagram


This is part of my series on Advanced Tableau Visualizations.

What is a Sankey diagram?  As always, Wikipedia has the answers.

The History of Sankey diagrams actually dates back to this diagram from Charles Joseph Minard illustrating Napoleon’s Russian campaign of 1812.  And it was named after Matthew Henry Phineas Riall Sankey for his 1898 article about the energy efficiency of the steam engine.  Sankey is given credit for creating the world’s first energy flow diagram – now known as the Sankey diagram.

What they are for:


Jeffrey Shaffer (@HighVizAbility) has a great series of tutorials. Here is Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.  And this one is also a Sankey

Olivier Catherin also has a few good ones here and here

Decision trees, flow diagrams, sankeys in Table… |Tableau Community

Let’s first build the dataset. For this purpose, we will use the superstore Dataset that we will blend with the polygonic dataset (we will make it polygonic !). The result file is attached. We removed all the data from it that is not required and added the ” Link ” column in the superstore data table.

Chris Love has a great tutorial on how to use data densification in a Sankey Diagram

Sankey Charts in Tableau – The Information Lab

Sankey charts in Tableau usually involve a fair amount of data manipulation, this method uses data densification to avoid that.

And Steve Wexler addresses the question ‘is this the right visualization?

Circles, Labels, Colors, Legends, and Sankey Diagrams – Ask These Three Questions

The catalyst for this post comes from my recent attendance of a Tableau user group where the presenter demonstrated a dashboard that featured a packed bubble chart. I spent a lot of time shaking my head – not because this was a very poor visualization choice – but because the presenter was in a position of authority and there were people in attendance that were new to Tableau and to data visualization.


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Eric Axelrod

President & Chief Architect at DIGR
I have helped companies bring new data driven products to market, drive efficiency out of their supply chain, execute strategic plans, and drive top line and bottom line growth by enabling every business function with actionable analytics. I can transform a business which is lacking critical insight into an agile, strategic, data driven organization.

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