Slicers in Power BI (Tutorial)
You want your report readers to be able to look at overall sales metrics, but also highlight performance for individual District Managers and different time frames. You could create separate reports or comparative charts, or you could use slicers. A slicer is an alternate way of filtering that narrows the portion of the dataset shown in the other visualizations in a report.
This tutorial uses the free Retail Analysis Sample to walk you through creating, formatting, and using list and date range slicers. Have fun discovering ways to format and use slicers.
When to use a slicer
Slicers are a great choice when you want to:
- Display commonly-used or important filters on the report canvas for easier access.
- Make it easier to see the current filtered state without having to open a drop-down list.
- Filter by columns that are unneeded and hidden in the data tables.
- Create more focused reports by putting slicers next to important visuals.
Power BI slicers have the following limitations:
- Slicers do not support input fields.
- Slicers cannot be pinned to a dashboard.
- Drilldown is not supported for slicers.
- Slicers do not support visual level filters.
To create a new slicer, you can select the slicer icon and then select the data field to filter on (or drag it to the Fields box in the Visualizations pane), or you can select or drag the data field first to create a visualization, and then select the slicer icon to turn the visualization into a slicer. Different data types create different types of slicers, with different effects and options.
To create a new slicer to filter data by District Manager
- In Power BI Desktop or Power BI service, open the Retail Analysis Sample. (In Power BI service, select Edit Report at upper left.)
- On the Overview page, with nothing selected on the canvas, select the Slicer icon in the Visualizations pane to create a new slicer.
With the new slicer selected, select District Manager under District in the Fields pane to populate the slicer. The new slicer is a list with selection boxes before the names.
Resize and drag the slicer and other elements on the canvas to make room for the slicer. Note that the slicer items are cut off if you resize the slicer too small.
- Select names on the slicer and note the effects on the other visualizations on the page. Select names again to deselect them, and hold down the Ctrl key to select more than one name. Selecting all names has the same effect as selecting none.
List slicer items are sorted in ascending alphanumerical order by default. To reverse the sort order to descending, select the ellipses (...) in the top right corner of the slicer and choose Sort by District Manager in the drop-down list.
To create a new slicer to filter data by date range
- With nothing selected on the canvas, drop down Time in the Fields pane, and drag Month (or Date in Power BI service) to the Values box in the Visualizations pane to create a new visualization.
With the new visualization selected, select the Slicer icon to convert the new visualization to a slicer. This slicer is a slider control with the date range populated.
Resize and drag the slicer and other elements on the canvas to make room for the slicer. Note that the slider resizes with the slicer size, but it disappears and the dates are cut off if you resize the slicer too small.
Select different date ranges with the slider, or select a date field to type in a value or pop up a calendar for more precise selection. Note the effects on the other visualizations on the page.
Numeric and date/time data types produce range slider slicers by default. Starting with the February 2018 Power BI update, whole number data type range sliders now snap to whole number values rather than showing decimal places.
Although the Month data field produces a Between range slider slicer type by default, you can change it to other slicer types and selection options. To change the slicer type, with the slicer selected, hover over the upper-right area of the slicer, drop down the carat that appears, and choose one of the other options, such as List or Before. Note how the slicer appearance and selection options change.
For more about creating date and numeric range slicers, watch the following video and see Use the numeric range slicer in Power BI Desktop.
Control which page visuals are affected by slicers
By default, slicers on report pages affect all the other visualizations on that page, including each other. As you choose values in the list and date sliders you just created, note the effects on the other visualizations. The filtered data is an intersection of the values selected in both slicers.
You can use Visual interactions to exclude some page visualizations from being affected by others. On the Overview page, the "Total Sales Variance by FiscalMonth and District Manager" chart shows overall comparative data for District Managers by Month, which you want to keep visible at all times. You can use Visual interactions to keep slicer selections from filtering this chart.
With the District Manager slicer selected:
- In Power BI Desktop, select the Format menu under Visual Tools and select Edit interactions.
- In Power BI service, drop down Visual interactions from the menu bar and turn on Edit interactions.
Filter controls appear above all the other visuals on the page. Initially, all the Filter icons are selected.
Select the None icon above the Total Sales Variance by FiscalMonth and District Manager chart to make the slicer stop filtering it.
- Select the Month slicer, and again select the None icon above the Total Sales Variance by FiscalMonth and District Manager chart to make this slicer stop filtering it. Now, as you select names and date ranges in the slicers, the Total Sales Variance by FiscalMonth and District Manager chart is unchanged.
See Visual interactions in a Power BI report for more information about editing interactions.
Sync and use slicers on other pages
Starting with the February 2018 Power BI update, you can sync a slicer and use it on any or all pages in a report.
In the current report, the District Monthly Sales page also has a District Manager slicer, but it is not synced with the one you created on the Overview page (the two slicers can have different item selections). The New Stores page has only a Store Name slicer. You can sync your new District Manager slicer to these pages, so that slicer selections on any page affect visualizations on all three pages.
- On the View menu, select Sync slicers in Power BI Desktop (or turn on Sync slicers pane in Power BI service). The Sync Slicers pane appears.
On the Overview page, select the District Manager slicer. Note that the District Monthly Sales page is already selected in the Visible column, because there is also a District Manager slicer on that page, but it is not selected in the Sync column.
In the Sync column, select the New Stores page and the District Monthly Sales page to sync the Overview slicer to those pages.
In the Visible column, select the New Stores page and leave the District Monthly Sales page selected.
Observe the effects of syncing the slicer and making it visible on the other pages. On the District Monthly Sales page, the District Manager slicer now shows the same selections as the one on the Overview page. On the New Stores page, the selections in the District Manager slicer affect the selections that are available in the Store Name slicer.
Although the slicer initially appears on the synced pages at the same size and position as on the original page, you can move, resize, and format synced slicers on the various pages independently.
If you sync a slicer to a page but do not make it visible on that page, slicer selections made on the other pages still filter the data on the page.
Different formatting options are available depending on the slicer type. By using Horizontal orientation, Responsive layout, and Item coloring, you can produce buttons or tiles rather than standard list items, and make slicer items resize to fit different screen sizes and layouts.
With the District Manager slicer selected on any page, in the Visualizations pane, select the Format icon to display the formatting controls.
Select the drop-down arrows next to each category to display and edit the options.
- Select red under Outline color and change Outline weight to "2". This sets the color and thickness of the header and item outlines or underlines, when enabled.
Under Orientation, Vertical is the default. Select Horizontal to produce a slicer with horizontally arranged tiles or buttons, and scroll arrows to access items that do not fit in the slicer.
Turn on Responsive layout to change the size and arrangement of slicer items according to viewscreen and slicer size. For list slicers, responsive layout is only available in horizontal orientation, and prevents items from being cut off on small screens. For range slider slicers, responsive formatting changes the style of the slider and provides more flexible resizing. Both types of slicers become filter icons at very small sizes.
Responsive layout changes may override specific heading and item formatting that you set.
Set the slicer position and size with numeric precision under X Position, Y Position, Width, and Height, or move and resize the slicer directly on the canvas. Experiment with different item sizes and arrangements, and note how the responsive formatting changes accordingly.
See Create a responsive slicer you can resize in Power BI for more about horizontal orientation and responsive layout.
Selection Controls options (list slicers only)
Show Select All is Off by default. Turn it to On to add a Select All item to the slicer that selects or deselects all items when toggled. When all items are selected, clicking or tapping one item deselects it, allowing an "is-not"-type filter.
Single Select is On by default. Clicking or tapping each item selects it, and holding down the Ctrl key while clicking or tapping selects multiple items. Turn Single Select to Off to allow selecting multiple items without holding down the Ctrl key. Clicking or tapping each item again deselects it.
The Header is On by default, showing the data field name at the top of the slicer.
- Format the header text to make the Font color red, Text size 14 pt, and Font family Arial Black.
- Under Outline, choose Bottom only to produce an underline with the size and color that you set under General options.
Item options (list slicers only)
- Format item text and background to make the Font color black, Background light red, Text size 10 pt, and Font family Arial.
Under Outline, choose Frame to draw a border around each item with the size and color you set under General options.
- With Orientation > Horizontal, deselected items show the chosen text and background colors, while selected items use the system default, usually black background with white text.
- With Orientation > Vertical, items always show the set colors, and selection boxes are always black when selected.
Date/numeric inputs and Slider options (range slider slicers only)
- Date/numeric input options are the same as the Item options for list slicers, except there is no Outline or underline.
- Slider options allow you to set the color of the range slider, or turn the slider to Off, leaving only the numeric inputs.
Other formatting options
The other formatting options are off by default. When turned On:
- Title: Adds and formats a title (in addition to and independent of the header) at the top of the slicer.
- Background: Adds a background color to the overall slicer and sets its transparency.
- Lock aspect: Retains the shape of the slicer if it is resized.
- Border: Adds a 1-pixel border around the slicer and sets its color. (This slicer border is separate from and unaffected by the General Outline settings.)
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