Tables in Power BI reports and dashboards

Is this page helpful?

A table is a grid that contains related data in a logical series of rows and columns. It may also contain headers and a row for totals. Tables work well with quantitative comparisons where you're looking at many values for a single category. For example, this table displays five different measures for Category.

Screenshot of a table that displays five different measures for Category.

Create tables in reports and cross-highlight elements within the table with other visuals on the same report page. You can select rows, columns, and even individual cells and cross-highlight. You can also copy and paste individual cells and multiple cell selections into other applications.

When to use a table

Tables are a great choice:

  • To see and compare detailed data and exact values (instead of visual representations).

  • To display data in a tabular format.

  • To display numerical data by categories.

Note

If a table has too many values, consider converting it to a matrix and/or using drill down. The maximum data points a table will display is 3,500.

Prerequisites

  • The Power BI service or Power BI Desktop

  • Retail Analysis Sample report

Get the Retail Analysis Sample report

These instructions use the Retail Analysis Sample. Creating a visualization requires edit permissions to the dataset and report. Luckily, the Power BI samples are all editable. If someone shares a report with you, you can't create visualizations in reports. To follow along, get the Retail Analysis Sample report.

After you get the Retail Analysis Sample dataset, you can get started.

Create a table

You'll create the table pictured at the beginning of the article to display sales values by item category.

  1. From My Workspace, select Datasets > Create a report.

    Screenshot of Datasets > Create a report.

  2. From the Fields pane, select Item > Category.

    Power BI automatically creates a table that lists all the categories.

    result of adding Category

  3. Select Sales > Average Unit Price and Sales > Last Year Sales

  4. Then select Sales > This Year Sales and select all three options: Value, Goal, and Status.

  5. In the Visualizations pane, locate the Values well and drag the values until the order of your chart columns matches the first image on this page. Your Values well will look like this:

    Values well

  6. Pin the table to the dashboard by selecting the pin icon thumbtack in the upper-right corner of the visual.

Format the table

There are many ways to format a table. Only a few are covered here. A great way to learn about the other formatting options is to open the Format pane (paint roller icon paint roller) and explore.

  • Try formatting the table grid. Here you'll add a blue vertical grid, add space to the rows, and increase the outline and text size.

    Grid card

    table showing results

  • For the column headers, change the background color, add an outline, and increase the font size.

    Column headers card

    headers formatting in table

  • You can even apply formatting to individual columns and column headers. Start by expanding Field formatting and selecting the column to format from the drop-down. Depending on the column values, Field formatting lets you set things like: display units, font color, number of decimal places, background, alignment, and more. Once you've adjusted the settings, decide whether to apply those settings to the header and totals row as well.

    Field formatting for This year sales

    Field formatting for This year sales in the table

  • After some additional formatting, here is our final table.

    table with all formatting so far

Conditional formatting

Conditional formatting is one type of formatting. Power BI applies conditional formatting to fields in the Values well of the Visualizations pane.

With conditional formatting for tables, you can specify customized cell background colors and font colors based on cell values, including using gradient colors.

  1. In the Visualizations pane, select the Fields icon fields icon.

  2. Select the down-arrow beside the value in the Values well that you want to format (or right-click the field).

    Note

    You can only manage conditional formatting for fields in the Values area of the Fields well.

    path to Background color scales

  3. Select Background color.

  4. In the dialog that appears, you can configure the color, the Minimum value, and the Maximum value. If you select the Diverging option, you can configure an optional Center value as well.

    Background color scales screen

    Let's apply some custom formatting to our Average Unit Price values. Select Diverging, add some colors, and select OK.

    table showing diverging colors

  5. Add a new field to the table that has both positive and negative values. Select Sales > Total Sales Variance.

    shows a new field far right

  6. Add data bar conditional formatting by selecting the down-arrow beside Total Sales Variance and choosing Conditional formatting > Data bars.

    path to select Data bars

  7. In the dialog that appears, set colors for Positive bar and Negative bar, select the Show bar only option, and make any other changes you'd like.

    checkmark for Show bar only

  8. Select OK.

    Data bars replace the numerical values in the table, making it easier to scan.

    same table but with bars in last column

If you'd like to remove conditional formatting from a visualization, right-click the field again, and select Remove Conditional Formatting.

Tip

Conditional formatting is also available from the Format pane. Select the value to format and then set Color scales or Data bars to On to apply the default settings or, to customize the settings, select Advanced controls.

Copy values from Power BI tables for use in other applications

Your table or matrix may have content that you'd like to use in other applications, like Dynamics CRM, Excel, and even other Power BI reports. In Power BI, when you right-click inside a cell, you can copy the data in a single cell or a selection of cells onto your clipboard, and paste it into the other applications.

To copy the value of a single cell:

  1. Select the cell you want to copy.

  2. Right-click inside the cell.

  3. Select Copy > Copy value.

    copy options

    With the unformatted cell value on your clipboard, you can paste it into another application.

To copy more than a single cell:

  1. Select a range of cells or use Ctrl to select one or more cells.

  2. Right-click inside one of the cells you selected.

  3. Select Copy > Copy selection.

    copy options

    The copy includes the column and row headers.

    paste into Excel

Adjust the column width of a table

Sometimes Power BI will truncate a column heading in a report and on a dashboard. To show the entire column name, hover over the space to the right of the heading to reveal the double arrows, select, and drag.

video closeup of resizing column

Considerations and troubleshooting

When applying column formatting, you can only choose one alignment option per column: Auto, Left, Center, Right. Usually, a column contains all text or all numbers, and not a mix. In cases where a column contains both numbers and text, Auto will align left for text and right for numbers. This behavior supports languages where you read left-to-right.

Next steps