Two weeks ago, I released a tutorial on a Negative Space Bar Chart, and this week, we are going to be creating a Negative Space Area Chart, and do this within 5 minutes or less.

Note: This is an alternative type of data visualisation, and sometimes pushed for by clients. Please always look at best practices for data visualisations before deploying this into production.


We will start by loading the following data into Tableau Desktop / Tableau public.

Note: If you have Tableau Desktop, you can use the Sample data source, but if you are using Tableau Public, download and load the following data source.

Calculated Fields

We only need to create the following Parameter and Calculation Fields:

TC_Max Sales


TC_Inverse Sales

[TC_Max Sales]-SUM([Sales])

With this done, let us start creating our data visualisation.


We will now build our worksheet:

  • Change the Mark Type to Area
  • Drag Order Date onto the Filter Shelf and set to Discrete Year
  • Drag Region onto the Filter Shelf
  • Drag Order Date onto the Columns Shelf and set this to Discrete Month
  • Drag Sales onto the Rows Shelf
  • Drag TC_Inverse Sales onto the Rows Shelf

If all goes well, you should now see the following:

As you can see, we have the Sales and Inverse Sales, I wanted you to see this to enhance your understanding of what we are going to do. We will now finish off our data visualisation:

  • Remove SUM(Sales) from the Rows Shelf
  • Double click on the TC_Inverse Sales and check Reversed
  • Hide the Axis Headers
  • Ensure that the Colour Opacity is 100%
  • Remove the Grid Lines
  • Set the Worksheet Background Color to None (make transparent)

You should now have the following:

Now is the fun part:

  • Create a Dashboard
  • Drag an Image onto the Dashboard
  • Drag the Worksheet on top of the Dashboard
  • Note: Edit the color to match your background color.

and you should now have the following:

and boom, we are done with this Tableau Quick Tip, and I hope you had some seriously good fun; as always, you can find my data visualisation on Tableau Public at!/vizhome/NegativeSpaceAreaCharts/NegativeSpaceAreaCharts


I hope you all enjoyed this article as much as I enjoyed writing it and as always do share the love. Do let me know if you experienced any issues recreating this Visualization, and as always, please leave a comment below or reach out to me on Twitter @Tableau_Magic. Do also remember to tag me in your work if you use this tutorial.

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  1. Love the idea, I tried but got into a issues with in the month columns separators, they get clear too, so when I place the image on the back and published, I can see the lines of each month. I tried a dual axis, column marks with the same color, but the marks started at the bottom, so it gets worst. Any idea how to resolve that. Everything looks good before publishing


  2. Hi Toan Hoang, am trying to create a negative space are chart but am stack. Do you mind if i send you the twbx so you have a look.

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