Scatter charts and bubble charts in Power BI (Tutorial)

A scatter chart always has two value axes to show one set of numerical data along a horizontal axis and another set of numerical values along a vertical axis. The chart displays points at the intersection of an x and y numerical value, combining these values into single data points. These data points may be distributed evenly or unevenly across the horizontal axis, depending on the data.

A bubble chart replaces the data points with bubbles, with the bubble size representing an additional dimension of the data.

You can set the number of data points

When to use a scatter chart or bubble chart

Scatter charts are a great choice:

  • to show relationships between 2 (scatter) or 3 (bubble) numerical values.
  • to plot two groups of numbers as one series of xy coordinates.
  • instead of a line chart when you want to change the scale of the horizontal axis
  • to turn the horizontal axis into a logarithmic scale.
  • to display worksheet data that includes pairs or grouped sets of values. In a scatter chart, you can adjust the independent scales of the axes to reveal more information about the grouped values.
  • to show patterns in large sets of data, for example by showing linear or non-linear trends, clusters, and outliers.
  • to compare large numbers of data points without regard to time. The more data that you include in a scatter chart, the better the comparisons that you can make.

Bubble charts are a great choice:

  • if your data has 3 data series that each contain a set of values.
  • to present financial data. Different bubble sizes are useful to visually emphasize specific values.
  • to use with quadrants.

Create a scatter chart

Watch this video to see Will create a scatter chart and then follow the steps below to create one yourself.

These instructions use the Retail Analysis Sample. To follow along, download the sample for Power BI service (app.powerbi.com) or Power BI Desktop.

  1. Start on a blank report page and select the Sales > Sales Per Sq Ft and Sales > Total Sales Variance % fields. If you're using Power BI service, make sure you open the report in Editing View.

  2. From the Fields pane, select District > District.

  3. Convert to a scatter chart. In the Visualization pane, select the Scatter chart icon. .
  4. Drag District from Details to Legend.

We now have a scatter chart that plots Total Sales Variance % along the Y axis, and plots Sales Per Square Feet along the X axis. The data point colors represent districts. Now let's add a third dimension.

Create a bubble chart

  1. From the Fields pane, drag Sales > This Year Sales > Value to the Size area.

  2. Hover over a bubble. The size of the bubble reflects the value of This Year Sales.

  3. Optionally, format the visualization colors, labels, titles, background, and more.

    You can also change the marker shape to diamond, triangle, or square:

    Square marker

  4. Optionally, to set the number of data points to show in your bubble chart, in the Format section of the Visualizations pane, expand the General card and adjust the Data Volume. The default is 3500.

    Data Volume

    Note

    Because more data points can mean a longer loading time, if you do choose to publish reports with limits at the higher end of the scale, make sure to test out your reports across the web and mobile as well to ensure performance matches your users’ expectations.

  5. Optionally, to select the marker shape, expand the Shapes card, then select a marker shape.

    Marker shape

Considerations and Troubleshooting

Your scatter chart has only one data point

Does your scatter chart have only one data point that aggregates all the values on the X and Y axes? Or maybe it aggregates all the values along a single horizontal or vertical line?

Add a field to the Details area to tell Power BI how to group the values. The field must be unique for each point you want to plot.
Like a simple row number or ID field:

Or if you don’t have that in your data, create a field that concatenates your X and Y values together into something unique per point:

To create a new field, use the Power BI Desktop Query Editor to add an Index Column to your dataset. Then add this column to the Details area of your visualization.

Next steps

Visualization types in Power BI

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