Using a Waterfall chart

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1. Overview

The waterfall chart is a specialized type of bar chart that has the purpose of showing how a measure changes over a particular sequence, and how these changes impact the total. These categories may be a time sequence, or the steps in a process. 

2. Data Source

A basic waterfall chart has a single measure in MEASURES and a single hierarchy in ROWS.

A basic waterfall chart
A basic waterfall chart

More complex displays are possible using multiple measures, or multiple hierarchies added to COLUMNS (Series). Doing this will cause the chart to display them in a cumulative, “stacked” fashion on each bar. This can be useful for showing how several sub items effect the total.

Waterfall chart with columns hierarchy
Waterfall chart with columns hierarchy

2.1. Totals and Aggregators

As the chart shows cumulative effects, the “Total” aggregation should be set to SUM, which will ensure that the aggregated totals that are displayed on the chart reflect this cumulative total. Using other aggregations is possible, but may not display the desired result on the chart. Subtotal bars will be displayed if there are multiple levels on ROWS. This can either be multiple hierarchies or a multi-level hierarchy set to show more than one level.

Waterfall chart with subtotals
Waterfall chart with subtotals

3. Creating a chart

1. Drag and drop a measure to the Metric Set

Drag a measure onto the metric set designer
Drag a measure onto the metric set designer

2. Drag and drop a hierarchy to the Rows column

Drag a hierarchy onto ROWS
Drag a hierarchy onto ROWS

3. Re-visualize as a Waterfall chart

Re-visualize as a Waterfall chart
Re-visualize as a Waterfall chart

3.1. Chart Settings

The Grand Total bar is hidden by default, to show the Grand total bar uncheck “Hide Grand Total”.

Uncheck Hide Grand total to show Grand totals on the waterfall chart
Uncheck Hide Grand total to show Grand totals on the waterfall chart

The waterfall chart contains connecting lines between the bars on the chart by default. They can be turned off by setting the value to "None" in the Series (X) > Look settings in the Properties tab.

Setting connecting lines
Setting connecting lines

4. States

A frequent need is to visually identify which bars are positive, and which are negative. This can be achieved by using states. For more information see the Set up states on a metric set article.

Waterfall chart with states for positive, negative and Grand total values
Waterfall chart with states for positive, negative and Grand total values

To highlight that a positive or negative change in the cumulative total can be done using states comparing against a Constant value (0). To highlight the Total bar, using a hierarchy value of ‘All’ can be used to select the Grand total.

Configuring the Grand Total state
Configuring the Grand Total state

5. See Also

 

Dundas Data Visualization, Inc.
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