Usually the primary focus of creating Power BI reports entails getting connected to data, creating visuals and analytics and overall report aesthetics are an afterthought. Although, this isn’t a high priority item I would suggest spending some time planning overall report design. Having consistent and clean formatting will give your reports a more professional and polished appearance.
Each visual type has different characteristics that can be customized. An entire novel could be written to cover each formatting option. Today we are going to focus on more general formatting for reports.
Here is a screenshot of our report before any formatting has been applied:
Even though the report doesn’t look bad it can definitely be better.
Renaming Fields Within a Visual
Field names default to the schema name coming from the data source and may not always make sense. To rename a visual choose the down arrow next to the field name on the visualizations tab and select rename.
Here is how the report looks with all the fields renamed. The new names make it a lot easier to understand what is shown.
Some visuals have headers and some use the title, so changing to all titles can make visuals more uniform. Titles are accessed by selecting the paint roller icon on the visualization tab. Make sure the slider is switched to on.
Expand the title options by selecting the down arrow to the left of the word and you can free form your title text, format font and give a background color to the title line. Here is how the report looks now that we have added titles to the main visualizations.
Adding a background to your visual can make it pop off the page. This is also accessed by selecting the paint roller icon. Make sure the slider is set to on and expand the background option to select color and transparency. In our screenshot we applied the background to our price visual.
Border or Shadow
Both of these options allow you to set the area around a visual and are helpful when you have a lot of visuals or if you like clearly defined boundaries. Access these options by selecting the paint roller icon. Set the slider to on and choose from options available. Here we have added a border to the sales transaction table and a shadow to the price by state map.
Colors can be formatted for charts individually or by choosing themes. If your company has pantone colors it is popular to customize to your company colors. Access the option to individually change data colors by selecting the paint roller icon and expand the data colors option.
Themes are available under the view tab on the toolbar.
Here is what our report looks like now that I have switched to the colorblind safe theme.
Although you can view the data points by hovering over the charts sometimes it is easier to add the data labels on the chart. This option is available by selecting the paint roller icon. Turn the slider to on and set the options. The units display defaults to auto. If you want the full number visible change to none or choose a common unit abbreviation like millions.
We added data labels to our two charts and set the units to none.
When tooltips are set to on you can add additional fields that will show up in a box when you hover over a data point. Turn tooltips on by selecting the paint roller icon and set the slider to on. Once tooltips are set pull the fields you want to appear under the tooltips section on the visual field tab.
We added and renamed two fields to our tooltip section and here is what it looks like when we hover over a data point:
Once you have set a basic formatting for visuals you can copy the formatting to other visuals using the format painter. It is important to note that you can only copy to one visual at a time, so once you have copied over your formatting to one visual you will need to select format painter again to copy the formatting over to the next visual. If you added a title the formatting will be applied, but you will still need to open the option within each visual to set the wording.
The format painter is available in the main toolbar.
Here is what our finalized report looks like now that we applied the same formatting to all our charts and tables:
In this example we didn’t apply formatting to our slicers (filters) on the page, but all the same formatting could be applied to those as well.
-Jerica Coleman, CRM and Power BI Consultant
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