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5 short tips for Power BI
Sometimes our Owls come across little titbits that aren't big enough to count as a full meal. Instead we bide our time and create a smorgasbord of little bites for you to feast on. With that in mind, here are 5 Power BI tips that you might not know.

Posted by Sam Lowrie on 19 July 2021

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5 short tips in Power BI

These tips are a bit short to be ... shorts. Instead, here's a quick-fire list of some easily missed items in Power BI.

1) Subfolders

You may (or may not) know that in the Model view of Power BI you can create folders for your columns:

Power BI Folders

Storing ID columns in subfolders provides a good example of the use of folders.

Did you know that by adding a back slash and a second name, it is possible to create subfolders within existing folders?

Power BI Sub Folders

This is useful when you have massive tables, or for dealing with measures tables.

2) Showing a hierarchy within a matrix

To change the name of a field for a specific visual (and only that visual) go to the field well and right click:

Power BI Matrix

Instead of renaming the field for all future uses, this lets you give the field an alias just for this visual.

Why not include each level's name when doing this for a matrix?

Power BI Title

I knew about this but didn't think of the aesthetic advantage. Thanks, Adam!

3) Apply selective interactions after turning them all off

Interactions are great, but too many at the same time can be overwhelming:

Power BI Interactions

What does it all mean? Clicking on the line chart filters the donut chart, but why?

By default visuals affect one another, but there is a way to turn this off by default - just select from the menu: File -> Options -> Current File -> Query Reduction -> Disabling by default:

Power BI Interactions

Now no visual affects another - you can now turn the ones you like on!

4) Sorting multiple columns in a table

You probably already know how to sort a visual:

Power BI Table Sorting

Either click the column header (for a table/matrix) or click the (...) in the top/bottom right of a visual.

What you may have missed however is sorting by multiple columns in a table. This deals with the pesky issue of two rows returning the same value, and wondering which comes first.

Power BI Table Sorting

Sort the primary column, then holding down the Shift key click the next column header.  Repeat this action for each column you want to include in your sort order.

5) Specific visual presets (themes.powerbi.tips)

If you've ever needed corporate colours and formatting then you've probably used the built in theme formatter, which you can get to by choosing View -> Customize current theme:

Power BI Theme

You can use the built-in formatter to edit background colours, text size, colour palette and some defaults like titles.

You can combine this with templates by storing pre-formatted visuals, and it all works well. But what if I wanted new visuals to automatically look a certain way?

Power BI Themes

Not only can you create a corporate palette, but you can also format each visual down to its smallest setting.

Using the asterix * preset the general defaults for all visuals (so you can do things like turning all legends off or having centrally aligned titles).

Power BI Themes

When you have finished editing choose Download Theme and export the generated JSON file.

Then all that is left to do is View -> Theme -> Browse for themes and import your brand-new super automated theme!

Check out Wise Owl Shorts for more helpful hints!

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