Tableau: Min(0), Avg(0)? Where would I use this?

Unlocking the mysteries of placeholders

Priyanka Dobhal
4 min readAug 8, 2021

You are probably thinking what am I talking about. So I’m going to start with a question instead. Have you used a min(0) or min(1), avg(0) etc. ? Or have you seen someone use it?

The first time I saw a min(0) used was to create a Donut Chart. I didn’t think much about it back then. Just thought “This is how it's done”.

But with time and use, I have seen multiple places where we get to use these.

So today, I have got a few examples/use cases for you :)

1. Donut Chart
Let’s start with the most commonly used trick. So a Donut chart is basically a pie chart that has been scooped from the center. As I say this aloud, I’m not even thinking about it as a chart anymore 😄
Damn! back to charts 😃 So here’s an example of how to build a donut chart. I chose a very old viz of mine where I used the inner space to show the pictures of the cast of Big Bang Theory

You can find this example in my Big Bang Theory: How engaged were the viewers? viz.

2. Beautifying Text tables by using placeholder
Text Tables are quite boring. Aren’t they? But they are here to stay. Our clients always want to see them but can we make it cooler? Well, I don’t mean just aesthetically. But also, making use of visual cues to help our end user.
That’s where these placeholders help us. In the below example, I have made of min(0) to act as a placeholder and it lets me add different charts in here.

I didn’t put too much effort into my example because Ludovic Tavernier has the best one for us 😃

Viz by Ludovic Tavernier

3. Rounded Bar chart
There are multiple ways to do this but I learned this trick recently (I have been trying to recall from whom but my memory is failing me :D, but definitely from someone’s Makeover Monday viz). Adding a min(0) is letting you create a line from 0 to the measure value.

You can find this example in my #HowToViz: Bar Charts viz.

4. To add a label
Recently, I was working a MakeoverMonday viz and I went with small multiple charts. I wanted to show a header for each bar section and ended up doing it with a placeholder.

You can find this example on my viz: MakeoverMonday2021 | Week 21 — How are wildlife populations changing?

You can make a stylish bar chart in a similar way

You can find this example in my #HowToViz: Bar Charts viz.

5. Adding space between bar charts
I should probably show an example of what I mean :)

Do you see those spaces between each country in the right chart? That’s what I meant :D

So how can you add that? Well, in this case, you can use MIN(NULL).

You can find this example in my MakeoverMonday2020 | Week 43 — Apparel Export to US viz.

NOTE: Don’t use a min(0) or any number here. Because if you use a number, it would show in the label.

But using a MIN(NULL) will display Nothing.

That brings us to the end of this post. Hopefully, I didn’t bore you here :)

Do you have any good examples of placeholders? Share with me in the comments sections.

Thanks for the read. Stay safe and happy :)