While the Data Schools focuses on learning Tableau and Alteryx, we had the opportunity to undertake training in Power BI. I enjoyed learning a new system and I feel it has great potential as a visualisation tool. For example, it has a number of pre-set visuals (such as Sankey charts or Tornado charts), which could be applied and constructed without a step-by-step calculation process.

On the other hand, there are a few processes that feel a little more awkward to use. Additionally, another challenge is that applying calculations requires a different language terminology from that in Tableau and Alteryx. For example, the ‘count distinct’ command is COUNTD for both Tableau and Alteryx, but it is DISTINCTCOUNT is used in Power BI.

Power BI utilises DAX functions (Data Analysis Expressions). which while closer to the language applied in Excel, have a number of differences. DAX is a formula language and a DAX Function is an inbuilt modelling function. The DAX language enables users to perform various actions on the data in the tables in your Data Model. DAX functions enable users to perform commonly data calculations on the Data Model.

But calculations aside, in this post I’d like to describe a process in Power BI that requires a somewhat different approach to that in Tableau – making Tooltips visualisations.


In order to create a tooltip, first you must create a separate Tooltip Page. The concept is not dissimilar to making a tooltip visualization using a separate sheet in Tableau, but the Tooltip Page must be set to be received as one.

Create the Tooltip Page

Open a new page using the + at the bottom of the sheet canvas. Name this page ‘Tooltip’.

In the Visualisations pane below the chart symbols, there is a little painting roller icon – this is the ‘Format’ button. Click on it and you will see a number of options to format the page – select Page Size and then the Type template for ‘Tooltip’. This will size the page to a smaller, more standard tooltip size.

Change the overall page to actual size to see what your tooltip will appear as. As a default, Power BI fits a new page to all the available space on that page. To change to the actual size, go to the ribbon, select the View tab > Page View > Actual Size.

Once you have set this up, you can construct and customise your tooltip chart however you prefer.
Once you are done, select the chart, go to Format, scroll down and toggle the Tooltip setting to ‘On’.

The next stage is to configure the Reports Page to recognise and receive the Tooltip Page.

Configure the Report Page

The Report Page is the page containing the visuals that you want the tooltip to appear over. The first step on this page is to go to Format > Page Information > and toggle this Tooltip slider to ‘On’.

Next you specify the field/s for which you want the tooltip to appear for. Go to the Tooltip Page, go to the ‘Values’ icon and drag and drop the fields that you want the tooltip to appear for.

For example, if the visualisations which you want a tooltip to appear for BACK in the Report Page contains ‘Total Number of Individuals’, then drag and drop ‘Total Number of Individuals’ from the Fields panel into this Tooltip slot (as seen below).

You can drag in multiple fields, which can be categorical, numerical or measures. Go back to the Reports Page. For any visualisations that contain these fields; now, hovering over the chart will result in the tooltip appearing.

Overall, despite the alternate approaches required, I’m intrigued with a potential of Power BI and intend to build on my visualisation experiences with it. I hope that above example may help users to improve their understanding and enrich the quality of their visualisation modelling within Power BI.

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Tamara Allcock
Author: Tamara Allcock

Tamara has an interesting background in veterinary science, data analytics and retail. She discovered her passion for analytics while working on a range of research projects involving Australian and exotic wildlife. She was excited to learn about the Data School and the opportunities it provided to develop this interest into a career path. It may be a common preference, but she thinks you can’t go wrong the variety of options a delicious pizza offers. In her spare time, Tamara is an avid reader and watcher of fantasy, science-fiction or assorted pop culture and also enjoys painting, craft projects and writing.