1. Overview of Visualizations in Power BI


In this lesson, we’ll learn the principles behind creating charts in Power BI Desktop. We’ll see how charts are built up by adding fields to various wells.

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  1. Course Overview (00:04)

    This course introduces some of the most common visualization types available in Power BI, as well as some of the most important options for formatting and customizing those visualizations. This course uses Power BI Desktop, but most of the visualization features covered here are also available in the online service.

    The data set for the course is based on a software company that sells a product to 1000 customers. Each customer is represented by one row in the data set. The data contains information on the revenue generated from each sale, as well as the sales person responsible for the sale and geographic data for each customer.

  2. Creating Visualizations (01:58)

    We can create a new visualization by dragging a field from the Fields pane to a blank area of the canvas. Alternatively, we can select a blank area of the canvas, and select the check box next to a field name to create a new visualization.

    When we create a visualization, Power BI selects an appropriate chart type based on the data we selected. For example, numeric data produces a column chart, while text data produces a table. We can change the type of a chart by selecting the chart type we want in the Visualizations pane.

  3. Modifying a Chart Using the Wells (03:11)

    The fields used to create a chart appear in wells, which are found below the visualization pane. Wells represent different aspects of a chart, such as the field used to determine the size of each bar in a bar chart. The exact wells that you’ll see vary between different chart types. You can build or customize a chart by dragging fields from the Fields pane to the relevant well.

  4. Further Chart Formatting Options (04:03)

    Several more options are available by selecting the three dots in the top right corner of a chart. Export data lets us export the data in the chart to a csv file. Show data opens a window showing the data from the chart in a tabular format. Spotlight highlights the selected chart, which can help you focus attention on one important chart if you have a report page containing many charts.


The main strength of Power BI is to quickly and easily create insightful visualizations.

In the first course, we created a few simple visuals based on data from an accounting firm.

In this course, we'll cover the different type of visualizations available in Power BI in more detail. We'll also explore how to add custom visuals, which expand the range of visual types to include almost anything you might need. Finally, we'll look at the various options provided by Power BI for formatting and modifying your visuals.

We'll focus on how to accomplish these tasks in Power BI Desktop. That being said, the Power BI online service actually has most of the functionality that we'll cover. In this lesson, we'll learn how to create and add data to visualizations. Let's start by connecting to a sales dataset form a software company in the US.

The data comes from an Excel file, so to import it, we'll navigate to the Home tab, select Get data, Excel.

And then we'll navigate to the correct file.

The data that we need is in the sheet 2016_Sales, so we'll select it.

And look at the preview to get a feel for the dataset.

We can see that each row represents a company. Each company has a certain number of users and a total for revenue.

We also have the addresses of each company divided into various fields.

Furthermore, this sheet details the date of each sale and the sales person involved.

Note that each company appears only once and there are 1,000 companies in the dataset. We'll click Load to add the dataset to the data model.

In the previous course, we saw how to create visualizations by dragging a field onto the canvas or simply selecting the associated checkbox. In this case, we'll start by selecting the checkbox for Revenue.

Power BI automatically selects an appropriate visual based on the type of data. In this case, numeric data produces a column chart. Let's create a few more charts. We'll click a blank area of the canvas to deselect our column chart. Then select Company Name, which is a text field. We can see that Power BI creates a table.

Let's press Delete to remove this table.

And select State. This is a geographic field, so Power BI creates a map. The automatic selection of a visual is always based on the first field used to create it. Power BI won't automatically change the type of a visual after you've added new fields. However, you can change the type of visualization yourself. Let's remove this map. And add another field to our column chart. We'll select the column chart and then select the Sales person field to add it.

Note that we could have also added this field by dragging it onto the visual. You may have noticed that the fields we use now appear in the Field section of the Visualizations pane.

These areas are called wells and they represent various features that you can use to build your chart. Here, we can see that the Revenue field is in the Values well as revenue is the field we're measuring. Meanwhile, the Sales person field is in the Axis well and these values are represented along the x-axis of the chart.

The exact wells that we'll see vary between chart types. Wells provide another method of adding fields to your chart. You can simply add a field by dragging it from the field list to the specified well. To change the visual, we can simply select the type we want from the Visualizations pane. We could make this a bar chart, a table, or even a line chart. Let's leave it as a bar chart for now. We can further customize our visual by selecting the three dots at the top right corner of the chart. For example, we can change the sort order to sort this chart by Sales person. The export data option allows us to create a CSV file from this visual. Show data will display two windows. One with a chart and another with a matrix of sales people and revenue.

The spotlight feature highlights a selected chart. This can be useful if you have a report page with many charts and you want to focus on a single one. We've now covered some of the basic functionality that goes along with creating a visual in Power BI. Over the next two courses, we'll look at the different types of visuals available. We'll begin in the next lesson by focusing on the bar and column charts.

Dashboards and Visualizations
Introduction to Visualizations in Power BI


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