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Filters are an alternative to slicers when you want to see only a subset of your dataset. In this lesson, we’ll see the different types of filter available, and learn how to decide between filters and slicers.
- Filters allow you to reduce data to a subset, similar to slicers
- Filter criteria can be more advanced than the simple selection criteria offered by slicers
- Filters are commonly used if you do not want the user to modify the dataset themselves
Types of filters
- Visual Level Filters: Filter a single chart or visualization
- Page Level Filters: Filter all the visuals on a single page
- Report Level Filters: Filter all the visuals on all pages of a report
In the previous lesson, we looked at slicers which allow you to focus on specific sections of a dataset.
In this lesson, we'll look at filters.
Filters perform a similar function but do not feature on the canvas. On the right side of the screen, below the visualizations pane, we can see the filters pane.
If we select a visualization, we can see there are four different types of filter. In this lesson, we'll focus on visual level, page level, and report level filters.
When a visualization is created, the fields used are automatically added to the visual level filters.
Note that both filters are showing all, indicating that we can see all levels of revenue and all states. Let's imagine we only want to see states where revenue is above $500,000. To accomplish this, we'll click the arrow next to the revenue filter, select is less than, and see the filter options.
As revenue is numeric, we can filter for revenue at, above, or below a certain level, or filter where revenue is blank.
We'll select greater than or equal to, type 500000, and select apply filter.
Our chart now shows only states where revenue is above $500,000. Note that we are not limited to filtering by fields that are in the chart.
Let's close the revenue filter, and drag salesperson to the visual filters.
The filtering options are slightly different since this is a text field.
Currently, we can see the basic filtering option that allows us to select one or more salespeople to include in our filter.
This functionality is very similar to the slicers we saw in the previous lesson. We can also use the advanced filtering option, which allows us to filter text values in various ways.
For example, let's choose starts with, type B, and apply the filter. The chart now only shows revenues for salespeople whose names begin with the letter B. Note that our revenue filter is still active. This means our results are limited to show states where there's a combined revenue of $500,000 for salespersons with names starting with B.
Let's close this filter and clear the revenue filter by selecting the associated eraser.
Now the chart shows combined revenue for all salespeople with names starting with the letter B in all states.
You may have noticed that the other chart has not been modified by our filters.
This is because we've been using visual level filters which only impact a single chart.
Let's change the salesperson filter for a page level filter. Note that we can't drag the filter to a new area.
Instead, we must delete the visual level filter, drag salesperson to the page level filter area, and recreate the filter.
Now we can see that all our visuals, including slicers, have changed in response to the filter. We won't demonstrate it here, but the report level filter would filter every visual on every page of this report. Now that we've seen how both slicers and filters work, let's consider the differences and best-use cases for each. The first difference between slicers and filters is visibility.
Slicers allow the reader of your report to easily interact with your data. Filters are also accessible to readers, but not visible on the canvas.
As such, they are more commonly used when you don't expect readers to filter the data themselves.
The second difference is the selection criteria. Slicers generally allow you to focus on a subset of your data via values of one or more fields. As we've seen, you can use filters to select a subset of your data using more advanced criteria.
For example, the first letters of a string of text or a range of values for a numeric variable. Whether you use the filters pane or visual slicers, you will likely find yourself filtering data in most of your reports. In the next lesson, we'll look at another filtering option available in Power BI: drillthrough filters.