Tableau - Data Terminology

As a powerful data visualization tool, Tableau has many unique terms and definitions. You need to get acquainted with their meaning before you start using the features in Tableau. The following list of terms is comprehensive and explains the terms most frequently used.

S.No Terms & Meaning


An alternative name that you can assign to a field or to a dimension member.



A user-defined grouping of measures in the data source.



A .tbm file in the Bookmarks folder in the Tableau repository that contains a single worksheet. Much like web browser bookmarks, .tbm files are a convenient way to quickly display different analyses.


Calculated Field

A new field that you create by using a formula to modify the existing fields in your data source.



A text table view. Use text tables to display the numbers associated with dimension members.



A combination of several views arranged on a single page. Use dashboards to compare and monitor a variety of data simultaneously.


Data Pane

A pane on the left side of the workbook that displays the fields of the data sources to which Tableau is connected. The fields are divided into dimensions and measures. The data pane also displays custom fields such as calculations, binned fields, and groups. You build views of your data by dragging fields from the data pane onto the various shelves that are a part of every worksheet.


Data Source Page

A page where you can set up your data source. The data source page generally consists of four main areas − left pane, join area, preview area, and metadata area.



A field of categorical data. Dimensions typically hold discrete data such as hierarchies and members that cannot be aggregated. Examples of dimensions include dates, customer names, and customer segments.



A saved subset of a data source that you can use to improve performance and analyze offline. You can create an extract by defining filters and limits that include the data you want in the extract.


Filters Shelf

A shelf on the left of the workbook that you can use to exclude data from a view by filtering it using measures and dimensions.


Format Pane

A pane that contains formatting settings that control the entire worksheet, as well as individual fields in the view. When open, the Format pane appears on the left side of the workbook.


Level Of Detail (LOD) Expression

A syntax that supports aggregation at dimensionalities other than the view level. With the level of detail expressions, you can attach one or more dimensions to any aggregate expression.



A part of the view that visually represents one or more rows in a data source. A mark can be, for example, a bar, line, or square. You can control the type, color, and size of marks.


Marks Card

A card to the left of the view, where you can drag fields to control mark properties such as type, color, size, shape, label, tooltip, and detail.


Pages Shelf

A shelf to the left of the view that you can use to split a view into a sequence of pages based on the members and values in a discrete or continuous field. Adding a field to the Pages shelf is like adding a field to the Rows shelf, except that a new page is created for each new row.


Rows Shelf

A shelf at the top of the workbook that you can use to create the rows of a data table. The shelf accepts any number of dimensions and measures. When you place a dimension on the Rows shelf, Tableau creates headers for the members of that dimension. When you place a measure on the Rows shelf, Tableau creates quantitative axes for that measure.



Named areas to the left and top of the view. You build views by placing fields onto the shelves. Some shelves are available only when you select certain mark types. For example, the Shape shelf is available only when you select the Shape mark type.



A file with a .twb extension that contains one or more worksheets (and possibly also dashboards and stories).



A sheet where you build views of your data by dragging fields onto shelves.