Prerequisites: 1) You’ve already downloaded a data file. 2) You remember where you put it. and 3) You know what type of file it is.

The Connect to Data Screen

Start the Tableau Desktop Application & Connect to the Data

If you have trouble finding your file in Tableau, double check that you selected the correct file type from the menu. For example if your data is a “.csv” , choose Text File. Otherwise, the file will be hidden from view in the file browser.

The Data Source Screen

First Things First

The temptation to click the bright orange “Sheet 1” button and start making cool charts is almost irresistible. However, spending a little bit of time here upfront will prevent frustrations later.

  1. Get to know the data
    1. Look across the fields and make sure you know what they all are. If you don’t know some fields, find the data dictionary (sometimes called metadata or data definitions) and look them up.
    2. What is one record (or one row)? In relational databases one record is often one thing, like one patient encounter, or one day of COVID-19 cases.
  2. Rename the confusing fields (do this after you look up data definitions)
  3. Tableau guesses the data type, but sometimes gets it wrong. This is a good place to correct the data type if needed.
Fixing names and data types

At this point, Big League Tableau users might also take the time to do other things on the Data Sources Screen. The one capability worth mentioning. -because you and do it anywhere else in Tableau, is pivot. Pivot reshapes data that is wide (has lots of columns) and turns it into fewer columns but lots more rows.

If everything look OK, go ahead and save your project before clicking Sheet 1.