5 Ways to Enhance a Single Power BI Visual

September 1, 2021

Power BI offers a great variety of visual types to help tell the story of your data.

Power BI offers a great variety of visual types to help tell the story of your data. Power BI also provides tools to interpret and evaluate your data more clearly and effectively. In this short blog article, I will outline five ways to enhance a Power BI visualization. I will make changes to the visual below showing total arrests by age group and sex shown below:

Formatting Tools

To enhance the appearance of this visual, it is important to correct the names and increase the size of variables and titles. Often in a database, variables have names that need to be changed for better interpretation by the end user. In this example, we created a visual counting the total “ARREST_KEY” variable. We organized the counts by the “AGE_GROUP” variable and the “PERP_SEX” variable. Overall, we renamed the y-axis showing the count of arrests to “Total Arrests.” In addition, we renamed the age group and sex variables, and created an informative title for user interpretation called “Total Arrests by Age Group and Sex.” Lastly, the size of the title, x and y axis numbers, and variable labels were all enlarged to increase visibility.

Additional Formatting Tools

Power BI offers many other great formatting techniques to enhance a single visualization. In the example below, a background color of gray was added. A shadow was also enabled on the visual, showing a “pop out” effect. Data labels were enabled on the visual to show exact numbers at an instant glance. The title background was made light blue and the title font color was changed to white. Many other effects are present in the format painter of each visual. These are just a few examples of how to enhance the appearance a visual in Power BI.

For other formatting options, please navigate to this article:


Another way to enhance a Power BI visual is to incorporate bookmarks. Bookmarks allow you to capture a view of the report page. This means the filters, slicers, and visual state can be locked into a bookmark. With the use of the “selection” pane located under the report “view” tab, any visual element can be manipulated or hidden. Once the report shows the information and visuals, you can create a new bookmark to save the current state.

By using buttons, shapes, and images, we can use the “action” feature under the “format” tab to link elements to the saved visual state. For example, I have altered the previous visual to make use of bookmarks.

Instead of showing both “male” and “female” arrests by age group on the same axis, a bookmark was created for men’s arrests, and a bookmark was created for women’s arrests. By using the “action” feature, the buttons above will link to the bookmarks created. Clicking the “Male” and “Female” buttons will allow you to toggle between arrests by men and arrests by women. This concept has a variety of applications and significantly improves the visual appearance and increases the available report space for adding additional visuals.

To learn more about creating a bookmark on a visual, navigate to this article:


Another way to enhance a Power BI visual is to incorporate drill down features. A drill down feature allows you to review additional details about a specific filtered section of your data. In this example, we have created a hierarchy in the “Axis” section. We have added “PERP_RACE” under the “AGE_GROUP” variable. This allows us to filter on a single age group and find a breakdown of the arrests by race of that age group. Shown below, you can see this breakdown in the “25-44” age group. This feature increases visibility into the data and provides an interactive element to the visuals.

To learn more about creating a drill down feature on a visual, navigate to this article:

Drill through

Another way to enhance a Power BI visual is with drill through features. The drill through feature allows you to create a report that focuses on details that are filtered to that context. When creating a drill through feature, add visuals to a separate report page that pertain to the type of filter you want to explore. In this example, a report page was created with information about the “offense” type. Shown below is the “AGE_GROUP” variable added to the Drill through section of the separate report:

After creating the report and adding the drill through variable, we can effectively drill through on an age group. In this example, we drill through on the “25-44” age group:

We then can see a filtered view of this age group with visuals that enhance your data knowledge:

To learn more about creating a drill through feature on a visual, navigate to this article:


Through this article, we made 5 enhancements to a single Power BI visual: two formatting changes, bookmarks, drill down features, and drill through features. Through these 5 changes, a visual can truly enhance the end users’ understanding of the data. To learn more about HBS and Power BI capabilities, please contact inquiry@hbs.net for more information.



Derek Poggemann
About the Author

Derek Poggemann
Engineer Associate Intern

Derek joined Heartland Business Systems as an intern in applications. He is currently a sophomore at the University of Wisconsin La Crosse, and has enjoyed working with and building software for many years.


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