Guide to Slicers in Power BI: Create Better-Looking Reports

By Haziqa Sajid | 12 min read

A fundamental component of Power BI is Reports, which offer visuals that provide in-depth insights from data. However, with more visuals, reports can become messy. That’s where filters in Power BI come in. This article will explore a special filter called Slicer to make better-looking reports.

Click to skip down to a specific section:

  1. What are Slicers?
  2. Better-looking reports with Slicers
    1. Create a slicer
    2. Types of slicers
      1. Button
      2. List & hierarchy
      3. Dropdown
      4. Timeline
    3. Sync slicers between report pages
    4. Benefits and limitations of slicers
    5. Get all your data to Power BI using Dataddo, for free
    6. Additional Power BI tips and tricks

 

What Are Slicers?

A slicer is a visual element that filters other visuals on a report page. In Power BI reports, you'll find various types of slicers. Users can leverage slicers to sort and filter a report, displaying only the information they are interested in. 

Unlike traditional filters, slicers are visually integrated into the report, allowing users to select values directly during analysis. The following are the reasons to consider a slicer:

  1. Displaying commonly used or important filters directly on the report canvas for easy access.
  2. Clearly showing the current filtered state without opening a drop-down list.
  3. Filtering by columns that are unnecessary and hidden in the data tables.
  4. Creating more focused reports by placing slicers next to key visuals.

 

Better-Looking Reports with Slicers

In this section, we will use a sample case study and implement the different types of slicers in Power BI. The sample is a report on customer profitability. Download the report* and follow the instructions to create your first slicer to get started.

*NOTE: If the hyperlink above doesn't work, simply copy and paste the following link into your browser and hit enter; your download should start:

https://download.microsoft.com/download/6/A/9/6A93FD6E-CBA5-40BD-B42E-4DCAE8CDD059/Customer%20Profitability%20Sample%20PBIX.pbix 

 

Create a Slicer

Once the report is downloaded, do the following to create the first slicer:

  1. Open Power BI Desktop, go to the menu bar, then select File > Open report.
  2. Locate and open the .pbix file.

    Open the customer profitability sample report

  3. Click the Report icon in the left pane to switch to Report view. By default, it is switched to Report view.
  4. On the Overview page, with no items selected on the report canvas, click the Slicer icon in the Visualizations pane to add a new slicer.

    Creating a slicer from the Build Visual section in Power BI

We can already see some slicers in the report. We will also create ours to enhance its readability. 

 

Types of Slicers

In this section, we will discuss different types of slicers and show how to create them in the sample report. 

Button Slicer

Buttons are a way to slice data on touchscreen devices, such as tablets and cell phones. Their ease of selection and deselection makes this type of slicer highly popular. 

In the report, we want to see the revenue generated by each executive. Let’s create a button slicer for it step by step:

  1. Create a slicer as mentioned above. Adjust the dimensions of the slicer box accordingly.

    Creating a slicer and adjusting the dimensions

  2. Now, we need to assign a column to the slicer. To review the revenue generated by each executive, assign the slicer to the Name column in the Executive table.

    Assigning a column to the slicer

  3. To change the default format to buttons, navigate to Visualizations > Format Visual > Slicer Settings > Options > Style and set the style to Tile.

    Changing the format to "tile" for the slicer

As we can see in the screenshot above, it only shows the revenue of the selected item. 

 

List and Hierarchy Slicer

The default style for the slicer is a List. Previously, we saw the revenue generated by each executive. Now, let’s do it region-wise as well. Here are the steps:

  1. Create a slicer just like before and adjust the dimensions of the slicer accordingly.

    Creating a slicer and adjusting the dimensions

  2. Next, we need to assign columns to the slicer. To view the revenue generated by each executive and by region, assign the slicer the Region column from the State table.

    Assigning a column to the slicer

  3. We see "(blank)" in the category because some rows miss customer region information. We can exclude it by selecting the category, right-clicking to access the menu, and clicking Exclude.

    Excluding the column from the slicer

  4. Let’s go one step further and include the region's states. We can easily extend the List Slicer to a Hierarchy one. Drag the state field from the data and drop in the visualization field, or simply select the state field as shown below:

    Hierarchy slicer using region and state columns

Dropdown Slicer

If space is limited or you prefer a single-select option, you can convert the Slicer into a dropdown list that minimizes after a selection is made. Let's apply this to the region and state slicers:

  1. Select the slicer and navigate to Slicer Settings > Options > Style.
  2. Next, choose the dropdown option.

    Creating a dropdown on the slicer

 

Timeline Slicer

Timeline slicers filter visuals based on date ranges, allowing you to filter data greater than or less than a set date, between two dates, relative to a date and time window, etc. When adding a slicer with a Date field, Power BI defaults to a Range Slicer with start and end date options. Let's create a slicer in the report to view revenue by date.

  1. Create a slicer just like before and adjust the dimensions of the slicer accordingly.
  2. This time, assign the column Date to create a Timeline slicer.

    Creating a timeline slicer in Power BI

  3. Users can adjust the start and end date controls to see the changes. The range slicer can be configured similarly, with the only requirement being that the column must be numeric.

 

Sync Slicers Between Report Pages

It's often desirable to make slicer selections on one page and apply them to other pages. This saves time and eliminates the need to recreate the same slicer on multiple pages.

To sync slicers across report pages, activate the Sync Slicers pane by selecting View > Show Panes > Sync Slicers.

Syncing slicers between report pages

 

With a Power BI Slicer selected, this panel displays a list of all report pages, featuring two control columns for each page: sync and visible control. Checking or unchecking a sync control for a page enables or disables synchronization between the slicer and its copies on other pages. Checking or unchecking a visible control shows or hides the slicer on other pages.

Panel showing sync control on the left and visible control on the right

With this configuration, the slicers will be visible on the selected pages and synced across them.

 

Benefits & Limitations of Slicers

Slicers are not a one-size-fits-all solution for every data filtering issue. Here are their benefits and limitations:

Benefits

  • User-Friendly Interface: Slicers are visually intuitive and easy for users to interact with. This makes them ideal for quick filtering on report pages.
  • Enhanced Visibility: Positioned prominently on the report canvas, slicers ensure important filters are always accessible, improving user experience.
  • Flexibility: Users can easily select values during analysis, making slicers versatile for various report designs.

Limitations

  • No Visual Filtering: Visual filters are not supported. This limits their use in complex filtering scenarios.
  • Time Zone Handling: The slicer Data models lack time zone information, though the Query Editor adjusts local time.
  • Aggregation Limitations: Numerical slicers cannot process aggregated values or support measurements. They filter only raw data.

 

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Additional Power BI Tips and Tricks

Keep reading the Dataddo blog for more Power BI tips, tricks, and resources!

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  2. Guide To M Code in Power BI: A Power Query Formula Language
  3. Smarter Financial Dashboards for SMEs (with Free Power BI Template)
  4. Overcome Data Blending Limitations of Tableau, Looker, Power BI
  5. How to Connect NetSuite to Power BI: ODBC vs. Dataddo
  6. How to Connect Google Sheets with Power BI: Direct vs. Dataddo
  7. How to Connect Sage Accounting to Power BI for FREE: Direct vs. Dataddo
  8. How to Connect Google Analytics to Power BI for FREE: Direct vs. Dataddo
  9. How to connect JSON with Power BI: Direct vs. Dataddo
  10. How to Connect SEMrush to Power BI for FREE
  11. Connecting Xero to Power BI: Native or Third-Party Connector?
  12. How to Integrate Exact Online Data with Power BI (or any BI Tool)

 

 

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Category: tips-tricks

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