Mastering Tableau’s Order of Operation: A Deep Dive into Filters

Tableau is a powerful data visualisation tool that allows you to explore, analyse, and visualise your data with ease. One of the critical aspects of creating accurate and insightful visualisations in Tableau is understanding the order of operations, particularly when it comes to filters. The order in which filters and other calculations are applied can significantly impact the outcome of your analysis. In this blog post, we will delve deeper into Tableau’s order of operation for filters and provide a comprehensive understanding of how each filter type works.

Tableau’s Order of Operation for Filters:

  1. Extract Filters

Extract filters come into play when you decide to create a data extract from your data source. These filters help you minimize the amount of data being loaded into Tableau by filtering out irrelevant or unnecessary information right at the extraction phase. By doing this, you can enhance the performance of your workbook and ensure that only the relevant data is used for analysis.

  1. Data Source Filters

Data source filters are applied across the entire data source and impact all worksheets that utilise the data source in question. They are especially useful when you need to restrict access to specific data points or rows for privacy reasons or when you want to focus on a subset of data for your analysis. By using data source filters, you can maintain a consistent data set across your workbook and ensure that sensitive information is kept confidential.

  1. Context Filters

Context filters serve a unique purpose in Tableau – they set the stage for other filters in your view. When you add a filter to the context, Tableau generates a temporary table that includes only the data points that meet the criteria of the context filter. Consequently, all other filters in your view operate within the scope of the context filter.

Using context filters can improve the performance of your workbook, especially when dealing with large data sets. Moreover, they allow you to create more focused analyses by concentrating on specific segments of your data.

  1. Dimension Filters

Dimension filters are applied to individual dimensions in your data, allowing you to limit the data displayed based on these dimensions. For instance, you might want to filter your data by a specific category, region, or time period. Dimension filters work at the row level, and their impact is visible immediately in your view as you apply them.

  1. Measure Filters

Unlike dimension filters, measure filters operate on aggregated data. These filters let you display or hide data based on aggregated values such as sums, averages, or counts. An example use case for measure filters would be to exclude products with total sales below a specific threshold or to focus on the top 10% of sales performers.

  1. Table Calculation Filters

Table calculation filters are applied to the results of table calculations, which are computed based on the data displayed in your view. These filters allow you to refine your data further by focusing on specific aspects of your table calculations. For example, you could filter a moving average calculation to show only data points where the average is increasing.


Understanding Tableau’s order of operations is crucial for creating accurate and efficient data visualisations. By mastering the different types of filters and how they interact with each other, you can ensure that your data is filtered and calculated in the correct sequence. This knowledge will empower you to create more insightful visualisations, enhance your data analysis skills, and ultimately make better data-driven decisions.

Now that you have a more in-depth understanding of Tableau’s order of operation for filters, it’s time to put this knowledge into practice. Experiment with different filter types and combinations to see their impact on your visualisations and harness the full potential of Tableau’s powerful filtering capabilities. Happy analysing!

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