3. Formatting Charts


Power BI provides extensive options for formatting charts. We’ll look at the major options in this lesson.


Formatting Options

  • The exact formatting options vary by chart types, but some common options include:
  • General: Lets you modify the size and position of a chart
  • X-Axis and Y-Axis: Lets you format the axes, including their position color, text size, titles etc.
  • Data Colors: Lets you modify the colors of bars, lines etc. individually
  • Data Labels: Add labels to a chart giving exact numeric values for each bar, point etc.
  • Title: Adjust the font size, position etc. of the chart title
  • Background: Set the background color of a chart


In the previous lesson, we create two bar charts. One showing the amount of revenue generated by region and the other showing the proportion of revenue generated in each sub-region.

We'll use these charts to explore the formatting options available in Power BI.

We'll start by selecting the bar chart showing revenue by region. The formatting options we'll use in Power BI, can be found in the formatting section of the visualization's pane.

This can be accessed via the paint roller icon.

The first option, general, allows us to manually modify the size of the visual and its' position on the canvas. Most often, it's easy to do this by resizing the visual on the canvas as we've done previously, but it's useful to know that the option is here. We'll close the general tab by selecting the up arrow. Next, we'll look at the access options, starting with the y-axis.

Here we have the option to move the axis, change the color of the text of the axis or add an axis title.

The default text size for the labels can be a bit small so I'll increase it to 13.

We'll close the y-axis options by selecting the up arrow as we did before. The x-axis drop down has similar options.

The start and end values let us set the minimum or maximum value of revenue we want to see on the axis. We then have the option to increase the text size. However, we can also modify the number format using the display option. If we click on the drop down, we have the option to show numbers in millions, thousands, or without formatting.

As you can see, the default setting is auto, which usually selects an appropriate number format. Our chart uses millions which makes sense for the data. We'll close the x-axis options and move on to data colors.

These settings allow us to change the colors of our bars. We'll choose show all and give each bar a different color.

Next, we'll open the data labels dropdown and turn this setting on.

These labels give us the numerical value for revenue in each region.

We can customize the labels by setting their number formatting or position on the chart. We'll increase the text size to 13 as we did before. Moving on, the plot area dropdown allows us to set the transparency of the visual.

This can be useful if we have a background image, but otherwise may be of little interest. The title visual dropdown allows us to change the color, alignment and size of text, making it a bit more noticeable. We'll set the font color to black, change the alignment to centered and increase the text size to 13.

Next is background. This lets us set a background color to the visual. We'll set our background color as a light gray.

Lock aspect keeps the current proportions of the visual in tact if you resize it. We'll leave this turned off for now. Finally, border creates a border around the chart. We'll turn this on and add a black border.

These are among the most important formatting options but every type of visual has a slightly different set available. As you grow familiar with the different types of visuals in Power BI, it's worth experimenting with the formatting options available for each one. It's worth noting that formatting options are maintained when you change the type of visualization. For example, if we switch this from a bar chart to a tree map, we can see that the colors, background, border and data labels are still present. - We'll undo this change by pressing control z. We'll stop the lesson here. While you may not use all these formatting options in a re-visual, it's worth knowing how to access them. Developing aesthetically pleasing charts and graphs is a great way of attracting usage attention and highlighting specific data. In the next lesson, we'll look at how we can display more information on our visuals with legends and tool tips.

Dashboards and Visualizations
Introduction to Visualizations in Power BI


My Notes

You can take notes as you view lessons.

Sign in or start a free trial to avail of this feature.

Free Trial

Download our training resources while you learn.

Sign in or start a free trial to avail of this feature.

Free Trial