Tables in Power BI reports and dashboards

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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 are looking at many values for a single category. For example, this table displays 5 different measures for Category.

Create tables in reports and cross-highlight elements within the table with other visuals on the same report page. In addition, you can select rows, columns, and even individual cells and cross-highlight. Individual cells and multiple cell selections can by copied and pasted 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 drilldown. The maximum data points a table will display is 3,500.

Prerequisites

  • Power BI service or Power BI Desktop
  • Retail Analysis sample

Create a table

We'll create the table pictured above to display sales values by item category. To follow along, sign in to Power BI service and select Get Data > Samples > Retail Analysis Sample > Connect and choose Go to dashboard. Creating a visualization requires edit permissions to the dataset and report. Luckily, the Power BI samples are all editable. If a report has been shared with you, you won't be able to create visualizations in reports.

  1. From the left navpane, select Workspaces >My workspace.

  2. Select the Datasets tab, and scroll down to the Retail Analysis Sample dataset you just added. Select the Create report icon.

    pointing to report icon

  3. In the report editor, select Item > Category. Power BI automatically creates a table that lists all the categories.

    result of adding Category

  4. Select Sales > Average Unit Price and Sales > Last Year Sales and Sales > This Year Sales and choose all 3 options (Value, Goal, Status).

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

    Values well

  6. Pin the table to the dashboard by selecting the pin icon

    thumbtack

Format the table

There are many ways to format a table and we'll only cover a few of them here. A great way to learn about the other formatting options is to open the Formatting pane (paint roller icon paintroller) and explore.

  • Try formatting the table grid. Here we've added a blue vertical grid, added space to the rows, increased the outline and text size a bit.

    Grid card

    table showing results

  • For the column headers we changed the background color, added an outline, and increased 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 dropdown. 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

  • And after some additional formatting, here is our final table. Since there are so many formatting options, the best way to learn is to start with the default formatting, open the Formatting pane , and start exploring.

    table with all formatting so far

Conditional formatting

One type of formatting is referred to as conditional formatting and is applied to fields in the Values well of the Visualizations pane in Power BI service or Desktop.

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 in Power BI service or Desktop, select the down-arrow beside the value in the Values well that you want to format (or right-click the field). You can only manage conditional formatting for fields in the Values area of the Fields well.

    path to Background color scales

  2. Select Background color scales. In the dialog that appears, you can configure the color, as well as the Minimum and Maximum values. If you select the Diverging box, 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 choose OK.

    table showing diverging colors

  3. 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

  4. 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

  5. In the dialog that appears, set colors for Positive bar, Negative bar, place a checkmark next to Show bar only, and make any other changes you'd like.

    checkmark for Show bar only

    When you select OK, data bars replace the numerical values in the table making it easier to scan.

    same table but with bars in last column

  6. To remove conditional formatting from a visualization, just right-click the field again, and select Remove Conditional Formatting.

Tip

Conditional formatting is also available from the Formatting pane (paintroller icon). 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. With the Power BI right-click, you can copy a single cell or a selection of cells onto your clipboard, and paste into the other application.

  • To copy the value of a single cell, select the cell, right-click, and choose Copy value. With the unformatted cell value on your clipboard, you can now paste it into another application.

    copy options

  • To copy more than a single cell, select a range of cells or use CTRL to select one or more cells. The copy will include the column and row headers.

    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. But 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

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