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This blog aims to provide an introduction to how to format your Viz in Power BI. For people who are used to Tableau (myself included), you may find that Power BI has a very different formatting interface, and the way chart customization is done can be quite different.

I hope this blog will shed some light on the most common formatting options in Power BI and provide a smoother transition for those new to the tool. In particular, we will learn:

  1. Where to find Power BI’s formatting interface
  2. An overview of the chart-specific formatting options
  3. How to format colours and perform conditional formatting

 

 

1. Where to Find Power BI’s Formatting Interface

To display the formatting interface, we need to click on a chart that we want to customize. Select the paintbrush icon on the Visualizations pane to make cosmetic changes to your selected chart. There are two additional tabs here, namely Visual and General. Under the Visual tab, we can adjust the chart’s Y-axis, X-axis, Gridlines and in the case of a bar chart, the colour of the Bars.

 

Under the General tab we can adjust the title, the chart background and various properties.

 

 

2. Chart Specific Formatting Options

In the previous section, we have seen the formatting options for bar charts. In Power BI different formatting options are available for different chart types. For example, we can see below, for the pie chart, instead of Y-axis, X-axis, and Gridlines, we get the options for customizing the Legend, Slices and Rotation.

 

You can also format Slicers (which are similar to Tableau’s filters). For example, you can choose between Single Select, Multi-Select and Select All.

 

And if you change the orientation of the slicer from vertical to horizontal, it becomes a selection bar rather than a checklist.

 

 

 

3. How to Format Colours and Perform Conditional Formatting

The easier way to change the colour of the Viz is to use the colour picker under the Default colour. Here, we have turned our bars from blue to pink.

 

A more interesting, and often more insightful way of using colours is to perform conditional formatting, which means setting the colours based on certain conditions.

To perform conditional formatting, click on the fx button, and this will bring up a new window.

 

 In the new window, we can select the field on which we base the colour on, the type of summarization (or aggregation) to be used. We then specify the colour to be used for the minimum value, and the colour to be used for the maximum value. And we can see a preview of the colour gradient specified.

 

We then click OK, and we can see that our bar chart has been updated to the gradient colour scheme that we specified.

 

 

 

 

Martin Ding
Author: Martin Ding

Martin earned his Honours degree in Economics at the University of Melbourne in 2011. He has more than 7 years of experience in product development, both as an entrepreneur and as a project manager in robotics at an AI unicorn. Martin is expecting to receive his Master’s degree in Data Science from CU Boulder at the end of 2022. Martin is excited about data and it’s power to transform organizations. He witnessed at first hand of how instrumental data driven decision making (DDDM) was in leading to more team buy-in and insightful decisions. Martin joined the Data School to systematically enhance his knowledge of the tools, methodologies and know-how of Data Analytics and DDDM. When not working, Martin enjoys readings, cooking, traveling and golf. He also thoroughly interested in the practice of mindfulness and meditation.