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Stop automatic grouping in Power BI Desktop
Read this blog to understand the risk of Power BI's automatic grouping of data, and to learn how to avoid getting caught out!

Posted by Sam Lowrie on 20 July 2018

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Preventing automatic grouping in Power BI Desktop

For those new to aggregation in programmes other than Excel, it's worth noting what happens when using aggregates in visuals in Power BI. To demonstrate this, consider this table:

Tables Grouping Aggregates

A simple table listing the number of products sold in each store.

The Problem

Everything looks fine at first glance, although Arndale Centre looks a bit of an outlier.  Maybe it is in London? Let's check the towns these centres belong to:

Aggregates grouping

Uh oh! Turns out that there are several centres called Arndale Centre - Power BI has grouped the sales to centres of the same name.


You can see what's going on more clearly if you count how many times each Centre appears:

Tables Grouping

Each centre has its own row in the table, so we can check if the same name appears multiple times.

Creating or using a unique centre identifer

The easiest way to fix this problem is to use a unique identifier for each centre within the table visual to split up centres with the same name. We already have a unique column called CentreID:

Aggravating Aggregates

Make sure to un-aggregate the column by choosing Don't Summarize, otherwise Power BI will try to SUM or COUNT it.

If you don't have a nice ready-made column to hand, not to fear. We can add one pretty easily in Query Editor. First click this button:

Query editor

The Edit Queries button on the Home tab.

We could do a similar thing by using the RAND or RANDBETWEEN functions in a calculated column.

Select the table you want to add the new unique column to (for us it is the Centre table). Then choose Index Column from the Add Column tab:

Index column aggregating Power Bi Desktop

It is never recommended to use From 0 unless you have a good reason to do so!

Using the unique identifier to suppress grouping

You can now use your new column to stop the aggregation of centres with the same name:

Aggregates dont summarize

Remember to change the aggregation to Don't Summarize, or all your hard work will be for naught!

If you don't want to see the column simply drag the column width so small you can't see it, just like you would in Excel:

Headers Aggregation

You will need to turn Word wrap off for both the Column headers and Values, or risk getting really long column headers!

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