Creating a waterfall chart in TIBCO Spotfire

Last updated:
3:37pm May 05, 2016


Waterfall charts (see also can be constructed from different kinds of data. Depending on what you want to visualize in the waterfall chart, and what the data looks like, you may be able to create the chart right away, or some intermediate steps may be required. Let’s start with a basic example.

Creating a standard waterfall chart from tall/skinny data

If you have Spotfire (Spotfire Cloud 3.6 or later) up and running, load

Then create a waterfall chart by clicking on the waterfall chart icon in the toolbar or the new visualizations menu. Select Category 1 as the Categorical axis if it is not selected automatically. Alternatively use the Recommendations engine and mark the columns Value and Category 1 and then double click on the waterfall chart. You should see something similar to this chart (though the order of the categories on the X-axis probably will differ):

You can further enhance the chart in various ways such as changing the sort order of the Category 1 column, adding labels and configuring the legend etc in the same way as you would do with any visual in Spotfire.

Highlighting a certain value using a sub-total bar in the waterfall chart

In this financial example data we want to highlight the so called EBITDA. EBITDA stands for Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization (read more at wikipedia) and is a commonly used number in financial analysis. With Spotfire we can highlight this value using a sub-total bar. The below Chart illustrates this (notice the EBITDA sub total bar):

In order to create this chart the first thing is to identify which categories in our data that belong to EBITDA and should be part of the sub total bar we aim to introduce. Looking at the definition of EBITDA and our data this appears to be: Sales, COGS, Salaries, Advertising, Facilities and Other costs.

The next steps are

  1. Mark Sales, COGS, Salaries, Advertising, Facilities and Other costs in the chart

  2. Right click and Select “Group from Marked”

  3. Name the new group EBITDA

  4. Mark the remaining categories

  5. Right click and Select Group from Marked

  6. Name this group Result (it will be apparent later why this is a good name). Note that the X-axis column has been changed to the column Category 1 (grouped), which was created by the Group from Marked operations above.

    Your chart should look similar to the below:

  7. Next we should add the column "Category 1" to the x-axis behind the column "Category 1 (grouped)"

  8. We are almost back where we started. But now let's add the sub total:

    In the Properties of the chart, on the Total Bars tab,  select “one total bar after each value” and make sure the drop down selects the column Category 1 (grouped)

  9. And so, if we add labels and set the formatting to “Currency”, we are done:

Waterfall charts can also be used for difference analysis, see for details.

You may also be interested in the Spotfire help documentation for Waterfall charts at:


File tall_skinny_waterfall_data.xlsx10.05 KB