So far we’ve been using the Rotten Tomatoes dataset in our vizzing journey. Let’s close that out for now and apply the principles we’ve learned so far toward a new dataset for some additional practice. We’ll be working with a dataset on volcanic eruptions this time.

In the previous exercise, we adjusted presets to make our visualizations more effective. Similarly, we can use tools in Tableau to strengthen our story (you’ll read more about this in an upcoming article as well). We can use tooltips to fill in the details, add annotations to give more context, or even sort data to present it in a more effective way.

Take the bar charts to the right as an example: we can apply a new “volcano-themed” color palette and title that better matches the topic of the viz. And by changing the tooltip text to provide context and sorting the data from greatest to least value, we better illustrate the impact of volcanoes.

Little tweaks to our vizzes can make our story that much more powerful.


  1. Let’s add storytelling elements to a viz. Using the volcanoes dataset, create a chart of your choice.
  2. Customize the tooltip of your viz. (Note: the default tooltip only displays the fields used in the chart - if you want to add context by using another field, drag that field into the tooltip mark.) The default tooltip displays the data field(s) title as text followed by the dynamic field or calculation in the <> brackets. Here, we’ve modified the tooltip to a sentence that reads, “In 1815, volcanoes caused 10,000 deaths”, rather than just “Year: 1815, Deaths: 10,000.” Modify Tooltip
  3. Identify a datapoint you want to provide additional context for. This can be an outlier or any particular datapoint you find interesting. To annotate the point, right click on it and navigate to Annotate > Area. A text box will appear to type into. Once you’re done, an annotation object will appear on the viz - you can right click the annotation object to format as desired. In this area chart, we visualized the number of deaths caused by volcanoes across years. Notice how there was a significant spike around the early 1900s? With a little bit of research, we learned that a volcano named Mount Pelée erupted then. This annotation will help the audience understand the sudden uptick in deaths and answer a question that will likely arise for many viewers. Add Annotation Feel free to continue customizing or create a new custom chart from this dataset. In the next exercise, we will learn to put all of our story pieces together in a dashboard.

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