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Tableau User Guide

The Office of Institutional Effectiveness (IE) at Boise State offers many different interactive dashboards that display data visualizations. These dashboards allow users to sort, filter, and keep and exclude data based on their needs. The dashboards are published using Tableau.

This user guide will cover the basics of Tableau use.

General Information

The Interactive Dashboards page on the IR website house the currently published and publicly available dashboards. Most of the pages will have introductory text that will explain what the dashboard is displaying and the purpose of the data. There are several different use cases for a Tableau dashboard: Boise State benchmarking (i.e., how well is Boise State doing), results in studies, and visualizations that display official university data.

To protect student privacy, the Tableau workbook and the data informing the visualization are unavailable to download or to view. If the results can be narrowed as to show personally identifiable information, no data will be shown. This will typically occur if the results show between 1 and 5 students.

If a dashboard page has specific directions, uses, or peculiarities, the tooltips above the dashboard will provide additional help.

All Tableau Dashboards have a toolbar at the bottom of the dashboard.

  • The Tableau link on the left will bring up a window that shows the number of times the dashboard has been viewed, a link to Boise State’s public Tableau Profile, and a button that links to an About page for Tableau.
  • Left arrow: undo
  • Right arrow: redo
  • Left arrow with bar: reset button (reverts the dashboard back to its original state)
  • The three interconnected circles present the share button. From there you can send a link to the visualization, share it on Twitter or Facebook, or send it via email.
  • The box with down arrow is the download button. You can download the visualization as an image or a PDF of the view currently displayed. The data and the Tableau Workbook are not available for download. For questions about the data, contact
  • The last button, the box with the cropping angles, is the full screen button. Use this to focus in on the dashboard and have it fill the entire display.

Dashboards are displayed in three ways. as a Story, a set of dashboards, or a single dashboard.


The Strategic Plan dashboards are a good example of what a Tableau Story looks like. 

The cards across the top of the dashboard help navigate you through the narrative of the data visualization. Filters will not carry over across cards.  

Set of Dashboards

A set of dashboards will be displayed in tabs rather than cards. The Graduating Student Survey and the Undergraduate Advising Survey are good examples of sets of dashboards. 

The down arrow on the far left of the tabs will show you a menu of all the dashboards available. The left and right arrows on either side of the tabs will help you advance through the tabs. The filters chosen on one tab will carry over to the next. If you choose a year, career, college, or department, that selection will be displayed throughout all of the dashboards.


A single dashboard will have no navigation functions at the top of the visualization. What you see is what you get.

Interacting with Dashboards

Using Filters

Many dashboards have filters which allow users to choose a selection such as academic year and career, drill down to a college or department, or look more closely at certain populations. Filters can appear on a dashboard as single-select-round radio buttons, multi-select-square checkboxes, single-select dropdown menus, and multi-select dropdown menus. Once a filter is selected the dashboard will update to reflect the specification. If a filter is active, a filter icon with a red ‘x’ will show above it. Click on that icon to reset the filter.

Some filters use parameters so that users can view the data in a chart differently. For example, a chart might show enrollment over time. A parameter would allow users to choose to show enrollment over time by gender or by ethnicity or by academic level and so on.


The tooltips in each dashboard show alternative text for each data point. Hover over a data point to show the alternative text for that data point that describes in as much detail as possible the specifications that inform the data, such as the year, what is being measured, and any other additional information.


When you click a data point in a chart or a legend for a chart, all of the elements associated with the data point will be highlighted. To remove the highlighting, click the again on the same element. Sometimes, clicking on an element will also act as a filter that can affect the entire the dashboard.