Tableau Tip: Documentation using “Show Caption”

I’m a note-taker — it’s my go-to method for learning and organizing my thoughts. I write to do lists too, but that’s another post. : ) This skill has come in handy recently when I needed to reference a complex Tableau dashboard build from a few months ago. Relying on my memory is sketchy (age, related perhaps?)  – but relying on my notetaking never fails me.  So where does one put notes in a Tableau workbook, so as not to clutter the sheets or dashboards?

If the notes are somewhat lengthy, I recommend utilizing the little-known feature “Show Caption”.  By selecting this from the Worksheet drop-down menu, a box appears at the bottom of your sheet. Tableau automatically populates it with a description of the fields brought into the view.  You can keep this description, or you can Edit the caption to modify it or add your own notes. 

For the workbook I mentioned earlier, I wanted to document the steps I followed to build a drilldown using set actions, so I decided to edit the caption, clear the default description, and add my own. To edit, simply right-click (Control-click on a Mac) in the Caption area and select “Edit Caption”.

This opens an editor dialog box. In this space you can add/remove text and set formatting.

Select Ok once you’ve completed your edits, and the revised caption will appear at the bottom of your sheet.

Viola! Detailed notes at the bottom of your sheet for your future reference, or a delightful surprise when a colleague opens a workbook previously built by you. 

One final note — Captions do not appear by default when sheets are added to dashboards, making them a perfect “behind-the-scenes” spot for notes. Of course, if you wish to display them on a dashboard, it’s a simple as accessing the drop-down menu on the wireframe and checking “Show Caption”.

Happy note-taking! Your future self will thank you.

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