Now that we have imported the data and created a clean data model, we are ready to start creating visualizations that tell a story. In this section we will go through:

  • Which visual?
  • How to create reports
  • Create dashboards
  • Enrich reports for useability

Which Visual?

Power BI has some terrific standard charts to use. To start using a chart, click on the chart icon and place the appropriate measures into the values and axis wells that come up.

The most common 11 charts you will use are below. I have added an explanation of what each chart type is typically used for.

VisualizationWhat is it used for?
Bar/Column ChartsFor comparing data values across categories
Line ChartDisplaying and comparing trends over time
Combination ChartVisualize data sets with measures that have different scales
Waterfall ChartTo show a breakdown of a value into components
Scatter ChartFor comparing two kinds of numeric data and looking for outliers
Guage ChartTracking a total or achievement level for a single data value over time
KPI ChartDisplays progress towards a goal with a time axis to show progress
CardsDisplay a single fact, a single data point e.g. Total Sales
Basic MapsAssociate quantitative information with spatial locations e.g. Sales by City
Decomposition TreeFor root cause analysis
Tree MapsTo display large amounts of hierarchical data

You can also add custom visuals to your report by clicking on the 3 dots at the end of the charts and then ‘Get more visuals.’ You will see a popup which shows you the different sort of custom visuals you can add. If you want to get even more tailored, you can create your own visuals using ‘R’ and ‘Python’ if you have those languages installed on your machine.

How to create reports

Let’s create a column chart and do some formatting. Start by clicking on the ‘Stacked column’ chart. Then drop the product[Category] column into the Axis well and then add sales[Sales Amount] into the values well.

If you click on the down arrow in the right corner of ‘Sales Amount’ in the values well, you will see an aggregation selection open up. By default we SUM the Sales Amount column, however if you wanted to change it to another value such as AVERAGE or COUNT, you could do so here. Note that an alternative would be to write a DAX measure for the aggregation we want. For example we could write ‘Total Sales = SUM( sales[Sales Amount]) )’ and drag this measure into the values well and we would get the same result.

To format a chart, click on the paint brush. Directly underneath the paint brush is a search bar. This is super useful for quickly finding an option such as ‘text size’. Type this in and let’s increase the fonts to make the chart more readable.

In both the X and Y Axis, increase the axis text size and the title text size to 15 pt. Nice that is eaier on the eyes.

One interesting formatting you can do with charts is conditional formatting. In the formatting pane, expand ‘Data colors’ and click on the ‘fx’ symbol.

When the popup shows, you can change the ‘Format by’ from color scale to rules or field values. Let’s keep color scale for now. Next select your fields to base the colors on. Change the field to Sum of Sales Amount. In the colors you can change the minimum and maximum colors by clicking on the shaded box. Note it is also possible to add in your own custom colot using the RGB scale if you do not find a color you like in the standard selection.