Creating a data visualization in Microsoft Power BI using the default settings for each graphical type is fine as a starting point for your reports, but it is not generally good enough for the final product. For the final report, you are going to want to add personal touches, highlight specific data points, and maybe even add some eye-catching flair to the project.
You have access to numerous settings, configurations, and adjustments inside the Power BI palette, but how you get to those features takes a bit of knowledge and some practice. This TechRepublic how-to tutorial shows you how access the various format settings in your Power BI dashboards and reports.
Format and configuration
The default format settings for each data visualization graphical type in the Power BI palette is about as bland as bland can get. For most users, that depiction is not going to properly communicate what you intend to communicate.
Click the report you want to format, which will change the visualization palette dynamically to match your focus. To change the formatting of a report or a particular data point, click the paint roller icon on the visualization palette as shown in Figure A.
Depending on what you have clicked on in the report, the Format section will present you with various configuration options. To change the color from the default shown in our example bar graph, just click the paint roller and then the Data Colors item. You can change all the colors together or, if you click the Show All slider, you can change each data point individually. If you want to highlight the Facebook data point, for example, because it is your greatest gain, you can change the color to something more striking, as shown in Figure B.
If you can't find a default color you like, just click the Custom Color item and chose your own color from the full available spectrum.
SEE: Microsoft Power BI: Getting started with data visualization (free PDF)
It is your choice
Scroll down the Format list further to make changes to titles and data labels, add a legend, or even add a background, if you wish. The choices you make at this point will determine how well your report disseminates what is important and to whom, so choose wisely. This is where your skills in data visualization communication come into play.
Figure C shows one potential treatment of the sample data. What would you do differently and why would it be better?
More Power BI tutorials
This tutorial is part of a series of tips and tricks to help you master Power BI and data visualization. Here's what we've covered so far:
- How to configure an Excel file for use in Power BI
- How to create your first Microsoft Power BI dashboard
- How to harness OneDrive to keep your Power BI dashboard fresh
- How to share your Power BI dashboards and reports
- How to download and install Microsoft Power BI Desktop
- Hiring kit: Microsoft Power BI developer (Tech Pro Research)
- Microsoft's Power BI Premium delivers enterprise-grade features and bulk discounts
- Microsoft wants to bring better data visualization to your enterprise
- 5 ethics principles big data analysts must follow
- 6 big data jobs you can get today
Are you using Power BI to build dashboards and reports for your company? Does it have the features you need to produce the results you want? Share your experiences and advice with fellow TechRepublic members.
Mark W. Kaelin has been writing and editing stories about the IT industry, gadgets, finance, accounting, and tech-life for more than 25 years. Most recently, he has been a regular contributor to BreakingModern.com, aNewDomain.net, and TechRepublic.