Shapes in Tableau are a powerful way to tell a story and help to enhance key information to your users on a dashboard, as well a way to create buttons in Tableau. There are a set of default shapes already in Tableau, such as arrows and weather symbols, but you can easily load in custom shapes as well.
Shapes can be found in the Marks card, when changing the drop down to Shapes. This makes a sixth option appear in the bottom right corner. Clicking on this shows the most common shapes first, but clicking on More Shapes... will open up a window that shows all the different shapes available. If you drag a dimension on to the Shape option in the Marks card, Tableau will automatically assign a default shape to each dimension. Click on the Default drop down in the Edit Shape window to see options available as well to find your custom shapes. You can only assign a shape to a dimension, not a measure.
The first step to load in your custom shapes is to find / decide / prepare the shapes you want to use. Our recommendation is to use high quality PNG files with transparent backgrounds, or else you will get a white box around your picture. If for example you put your custom shapes on a scatterplot with non-transparent backgrounds, they can hide other points and you can miss vital information.
When you install Tableau, it automatically created a folder on your computer called My Tableau Repository that can be found under My Documents.In this folder, you can find a lot of information such as saved data sources, bookmarks, and logs, as well a folder called Shapes. Here reside all the different shapes that are installed by default, and it is here you can save your own shapes – simply create a new folder and save them there. If you are loading in multiple shapes for different purposes you can create multiple folders, they don't need to be placed in just one.
In order to view your newly added shapes in Tableau there are two ways, either restart Tableau or go to Edit Shapes and click on Reload Shapes. You should now be able to see the new folder and your new shapes.
Either click on Assign Palette to assign them in order or click on the data item to the left to highlight it and choose a shape to assign manually. Click OK to view your new shapes in your sheet and you are good to go!
Then you can start creating informative charts like the following: