How to Remove the ABC Column in Tableau

The “ABC” column that appears in Tableau Tables is a meaningless placeholder that often gets in the way of being able to visualize data the way that you want to. Luckily it can be replaced or hidden using a number of different techniques to effectively remove the column from your Tableau visual.

Removing the ABC column in Tableau can be done a number of ways from adjusting formatting, adding blank values, to adding regular values and removing a column

The “ABC” column in Tableau appears as a default placeholder in text tables when a discrete (categorical) dimension is added to the Rows or Columns shelf, and there are no corresponding measures to display. Sometimes it helps as a reminder to finish setting up your visual with values, but it’s not always necessary. Here are a number of methods to get rid of the “ABC” column in a Tableau Table.

Let’s jump in!

Why the ABC Column Exists in Tableau

The reason you will see an “Abc” column in a Tableau is because Tableau interprets the visual as not being fully setup. Typically tables involve a combination of categorical rows, columns, and values. The Abc designation is a place holder telling you that no values have been assigned to a visual.

The example below shows an Abc column in a table that effectively disappears when values are assigned to it because numbers replace the Abc values.

Example of the Abc Column in a Tableau Table

In reality, it isn’t always the case that your visual will have values assigned to it, so most of the solutions listed below involve formatting changes or assigning “blank” values to the visual so the Abc letters are replaced with blanks or are made to look blank.

How to Remove the ABC Column in Tableau

To replace the ABC Column in Tableau, there are multiple options. Assign a new blank calculated field or assign the data type “polygon” to the marks section of a table. Resize the column width to the narrowest possible and turn off column divers in the Format Borders Pane.

Alternatively, you can add the same field to your rows and values, then remove the header for the row. This effectively removes the extra ABC column for your visual because it’s assigned values that are the same as the no longer visible rows.

Here is how to use each method in more detail.

Assign Values and Remove Headers

Start by assigning fields to the rows of a table visual. This will populate the columns on the left and return ABC values on the right side that we want to get rid of.

Assigning values to rows in Tableau showing the existence of an ABC column

Next, assign the same field that’s on the right side of your table to the Marks section of Tableau. By default it will display as “detail” or small squares that we will later convert into a Text Type so it looks the way we need it to, but for now it eliminates the ABC values.

Adding a row to the Marks section along with the row section

Then on the top Rows bar, left or right click on the duplicated column, and un-select show headers.

Disabling show headers on a duplicate row to hide abc column

When you complete this step, you’ll effectively have your columns and the values being shown as squares. Adjust the marks type to Text by clicking on the assigned pill in the marks section.

Adjusting the text values in a mark

The results will be a new table that does not have an Abc column to the right of it.

The final resulting table with no ABC column

This is our preferred method because it has fewer steps than adjusting the values to a blank and removing the column. However, it’s worth at least being familiar with because you can learn a lot about the different formatting options available in Tableau and ultimately gives you more control over the process.

Using a Blank Calculated Field

One common method to remove the “ABC” column is using a blank calculated field to replace the placeholder.

Right-click in the Data pane and select Create Calculated Field.

Creating a calculated field in tableau

Name your field (e.g., “Blank”) and enter two quotes “” and Click OK.

the formula to create a blank column using a calculated field

Drag your newly created calculated field to the Text shelf on the Marks card, replacing the dimension that’s causing the “ABC” column to appear. Make sure that the new field is assigned as a “Text” type, and the results will be a blank column on the right side of your table.

Changing a mark type to text

The next step is to remove the column on the right side by minimizing the width of it and adjusting the formatting so the column separators no longer appear.

Hover your mouse over the right side of a column, your mouse will change icons to a double sided arrow and you can collapse the column width to the smallest possible.

Example of resizing a table column in Tableau

To change table formatting, right-click on the table and select Format…

A formatting options panel will appear on the left side of Tableau, where you can choose borders and remove the column divider. Use the Pane dropdown menu and select “None”

Example of a minimized column in Tableau and adjusting the column divider to non

This effectively removes the divider between columns so the blank column that replaces the ABC values is no longer visible.

Example of a table in Tableau with no ABC column visible

Using a Polygon Mark Type

Another method to remove the ABC column is to change the Mark Type from the dropdown box in the Marks box to “Polygon”. This will automatically remove the ABC values, where the remaining column space on the right side of the table can be resized and minimized.

A table in Tableau where no Abc  column is visible because it's defined as a Polygon mark

While this method is fast, you do lose some of the formatting of a table that can be adjusted under the table formatting options by assigning a row banding color.

Adjust Font Formatting for Color or Opacity

Another alternative to creating a blank calculated field in Tableau is to adjust the font formatting of the values column with the Abc place holder text. You can adjust the “Color” from the Marks section and either change the color of the text to white, to match the background or you can adjust the Opacity to 0% which makes the text clear.

Example of adjusting the opacity of an Abc column to hide values.

Our preference is to use opacity settings because it won’t interact with the alternating color bands of the background of a table when making text invisible.

Assigning a Value

Of course, one of the easiest ways to get rid of the ABC column in Tableau is to assign a value to a visual. The ABC column is meant to save people time and remind them to assign values to a table and once they are assigned, they replace the ABC values in a column.

A Tableau Table with values assigned to the marks section with a sum of sales pill

Values are assigned by dragging them to the “Marks” box and assigning a “Text” type to it. Values will show up as a green pill once assigned.

Conclusion

Removing the “ABC” column in Tableau is a simple yet effective way to enhance the clarity and professionalism of your data visualizations. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can ensure your Tableau dashboards communicate the intended insights without unnecessary distractions. Clean visualizations are crucial for making data-driven decisions and presenting information to business users in a clear, impactful manner.

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