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Disappearing data labels in Power BI Desktop
Ever had a data label vanish for no apparent reason? This blog gives two of the most common reasons why this might happen.

Posted by Sam Lowrie on 20 July 2018

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Disappearing data labels in Power BI Charts

This is a Public Sam Announcement for a little problem that can sometimes occur in Power BI Desktop, whereby data labels disappear.  The blog explains what the cause is, although doesn't necessarily offer a solution!

If you want to meet Sam (or any of the other Wise Owls), book a place on one of our online or classroom Power BI courses!

Data label basics

Suppose I have a chart with data labels:

Data Labels Power BI Desktop

By default my data labels are set to Auto - this will choose the best position to make all labels appear.

I can change where these data labels appear by changing the Position option:

Data labels position options

The option that the Auto had chosen was Outside End whereas I have now chosen Inside End.

When I change the property some of my data labels disappear since there is not enough room to fit the text. Annoying, but not the issue this blog addresses.

The problem of disappearing data labels

The above chart is rather boring: what I would like to do is to add a splash of colour to the columns. Within the formatter I can change Data colors:

Columns data labels colours

By turning on Show all, I can change the colour for each level of my category.

That takes ages, especially if there are loads of columns, and I'm  lazy efficient and want a faster way. Instead add the Axis column into the Legend to get this:

Columns Data labels power bi desktop

A brilliant move that has coloured each column differently! But where are my data labels?

Unfortunately, when I try to change the position of my data labels back:

Data labels missing option

There's no option for Outside end!


The reason this occurs is that the legend is meant to be used for stacked column charts (for example for splitting sales by shop type like this):

Stacked column charts missing data labels

If I could choose Outside End as the position that would put each data label in the section above it. That would be rather confusing to say the least!

Sadly there is no current fix for this. Only option you currently have is to manually choose the Data colours and the Format painter!

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