Learning something new every day: Annotating Subtotals

I’ve been reading Alberto Cairo‘s The Functional Art – which is a fabulous book, btw – and thinking about annotations as part of storytelling. Then Tableau Zen Master Joe Mako posted this yesterday:

Honestly, I was stumped, because he was using a trick that I didn’t know about: If Subtotals are turned on for a given pill, they stay visible even when the pill has Show Headers turned off. In this case, to answer a Tableau forum thread Joe was using that technique for a duplicate dimension pill – so it doesn’t change the level of detail of the view – combined with a customized subtotal – where the duplicated dimension pill is discoverable within the grand total computation to make it available for customization. Besides showing a % of Total it can have other uses, too, like annotating your subtotals with possibly unhelpful comments:

However, in terms of legibility I think I like this next version better, which uses duplicated data instead of the Custom Subtotals/Show Header trick. While I just used static text here, it would be totally possible to put in more details appropriate to that particular sub-total. With Tableau v8’s new labels, there are some real possibilities for custom annotations.

Got your own hack? Let me know!

Please add your thoughts and perspectives