Create and use basic area charts

APPLIES TO: Does not apply to.Power BI service for consumers Applies to.Power BI service for designers & developers Applies to.Power BI Desktop Does not apply to.Requires Pro or Premium license


Smart narrative visuals can be created and viewed in both Power BI Desktop and the Power BI service. The steps and illustrations in this article are from Power BI Desktop.

The basic area chart (also known as layered area chart.) is based on the line chart. The area between axis and line is filled with colors to indicate volume.

Area charts emphasize the magnitude of change over time, and can be used to draw attention to the total value across a trend. For example, data that represents profit over time can be plotted in an area chart to emphasize the total profit.

basic area chart


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When to use a basic area chart

Basic area charts are a great choice:

  • to see and compare the volume trend across time series
  • for individual series representing a physically countable set


This tutorial uses the Retail Analysis sample PBIX file.

  1. From the upper left section of the menubar, select File > Open

  2. Find your copy of the Retail Analysis sample PBIX file

  3. Open the Retail Analysis sample PBIX file in report view Screenshot of the report view icon..

  4. Select Screenshot of the yellow tab. to add a new page.

Create a basic area chart

  1. These steps will help you create an area chart that displays this year's sales and last year's sales by month.

    a. From the Fields pane, select Sales > Last Year Sales, and This Year Sales > Value.

    area chart data values

    b. Convert the chart to a basic area chart by selecting the Area chart icon from the Visualizations pane.

    area chart icon

    c. Select Time > FiscalMonth to add it to the Axis well.
    area chart axis values

    d. To display the chart by month, select the ellipses (top right corner of the visual) and choose Sort by month. To change the sort order, select the ellipses again and select either Sort ascending or Sort descending.

Highlighting and cross-filtering

For information about using the Filters pane, see Add a filter to a report.

To highlight one particular area in your chart, select that area or its top border. Unlike other visualization types, if there are other visualizations on the same page, highlighting a basic area charts does not cross-filter the other visualizations on the report page. However, area charts are a target for cross-filtering triggered by other visualizations on the report page.

  1. Try it out by selecting your area chart and copying it to the New Store Analysis report page (CTRL-C and CTRL-V).

  2. Select one of the shaded areas of the area chart and then select the other shaded area. You'll notice no impact on the other visualizations on the page.

  3. Now select an element. Notice the impact on the area chart -- it gets cross-filtered.

    Filter examples

To learn more, see Visual interactions in reports

Considerations and troubleshooting

  • Make the report more accessible for people with disabilities
  • Basic area charts are not effective for comparing the values due to the occlusion on the layered areas. Power BI uses transparency to indicate the overlap of areas. However, it only works well with two or three different areas. When you need to compare trend to more than three measures, try using line charts. When you need to compare volume to more than three measures, try using treemap.

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