Scatter charts, bubble charts, and dot plot charts in Power BI

Note

These 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.

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. Power BI may distribute these data points evenly or unevenly across the horizontal axis. It depends on the data the chart represents.

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

Note

This video uses an older version of Power BI Desktop.

You can set the number of data points, up to a maximum of 10,000.

When to use a scatter chart, bubble chart, or a dot plot chart

Scatter and bubble charts

A scatter chart shows the relationship between two numerical values. A bubble chart replaces data points with bubbles, with the bubble size representing an additional third data dimension.

Screenshot of a sample bubble chart.

Scatter charts are a great choice:

  • To show relationships between two numerical values.

  • To plot two groups of numbers as one series of x and y coordinates.

  • To use 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.

    Tip

    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 sScatter chart, the better the comparisons that you can make.

In addition to what Scatter charts can do for you, bubble charts are a great choice:

  • If your data has three data series that each contains a set of values.

  • To present financial data. Different bubble sizes are useful to visually emphasize specific values.

  • To use with quadrants.

Dot plot charts

A dot plot chart is similar to a bubble chart and scatter chart, but is instead used to plot categorical data along the X-Axis.

Screenshot of a dot plot chart.

They're a great choice if you want to include categorical data along the X-Axis.

Prerequisites

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 scatter chart

  1. Start on a blank report page and from the Fields pane, select these fields:

    • Sales > Sales Per Sq Ft

    • Sales > Total Sales Variance %

    • District > District

    Screenshot of the cluster column chart, the Visualizations pane, and the Fields pane with the fields that you selected called out.

  2. In the Visualization pane, select Screenshot of the scatter chart icon. to convert the cluster column chart to a scatter chart.

    Screenshot of the cluster column chart becoming a scatter chart.

  3. Drag District from Details to Legend.

    Power BI displays 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:

    Screenshot of the scatter chart.

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 well. The data points expand to volumes proportionate with the sales value.

    Screenshot of the scatter chart becoming a bubble chart by adding Sales Vale to the Size well.

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

    tooltips display

  3. To set the number of data points to show in your bubble chart, in the Format section of the Visualizations pane, expand General, and adjust the Data Volume.

    Screenshot of the Visualizations pane with the Format icon, General drop-down, and Data Volume option called out.

    You can set the max data volume to any number up to 10,000. As you get into the higher numbers, we suggest testing first to ensure good performance.

    Note

    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. You want to confirm that the performance of the chart matches your users' expectations.

  4. You can format the visualization colors, labels, titles, background, and more.

    To improve accessibility, consider adding marker shapes to each line. To select the marker shape, expand Shapes, select Marker shape, and select a shape.

    Screenshot of the Shapes drop-down with the Marker shape options called out.

    You can change the marker shape to a diamond, triangle, or square. Using a different marker shape for each line makes it easier for report consumers to differentiate lines (or areas) from each other.

Create a dot plot chart

To create a dot plot chart, replace the numerical X-Axis field with a categorical field.

From the X-Axis pane, remove Sales per sq ft and replace it with District > District Manager.

Screenshot of a new dot plot chart.

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?

Screenshot of a scatter chart with one data point.

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

Screenshot of a scatter chart with RowNum added to the Details well.

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:

Screenshot of a scatter chart with TempTime added to the Details well.

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 your visualization's Details well.

Next steps

More questions? Try the Power BI Community