Best Books to Learn Power BI in 2023

The following reading list is essential for anyone looking to learn Power BI and improve their data visualization and dashboarding skills. We highlight essential technical skills along with background knowledge that’s incredibly helpful such as understanding how to work with different types of incoming data whether it is coming from Excel, SQL, or a Data Lake.

Having an understanding of these topics will not only help you achieve Power BI certification and pass the Microsoft PL-300 exam but they will give you a foundational and functional knowledge to prepare you for the real world.

We’ll also include some books at the end to better understand the business context of the reports that you are writing.

Knowing the context and the why is often more difficult than the technical aspects of dashboard development..

Let’s take a look at some of our top recommendations!

Best Books for Power BI Beginners

Power BI for the Excel Analyst

In many cases, Power BI is the next step as an organization outgrows Excel. Power BI for the Excel Analyst is a comprehensive guide to mastering Power BI. It starts with fundamentals including the basics of data modeling and DAX. More advanced topics include working with the Power BI Service and managing security roles. The book includes many real world examples to help people make the transition for Excel to Power BI.

Why we recommend this book:

  • Effective for Quick Learning – Excellent for beginners, with project-based content that promotes fast and effective learning.
  • Comprehensive Coverage – Includes everything from basic DAX to advanced topics like dataflows and workspace roles, making it suitable for both new and intermediate users.
  • Practical Application – Includes real-world examples and exercises to practice new skills.
  • Ongoing Reference – Serves as a handy guide to reference less used skills.
  • Additional Resources – Includes website access to track changes and improvements keep up with ongoing changes to Power BI.

Supercharge Power BI

If you’re looking to fast-track your understanding and expertise in Power BI and DAX, this book is an essential read. Highly recommended by both beginners and seasoned professionals, it offers a pragmatic, hands-on approach to learning. The author’s clear, down-to-earth teaching style is complemented by numerous exercises and examples ensuring a thorough understanding of each topic. Whether you’re self-studying or looking for a solid refresher, this book promises to be a valuable asset on your Power BI journey.

Why we recommend this book:

  • Practical Lessons – Teaches Power BI and DAX through real-world examples and exercises.
  • Comprehensive Coverage – From basic to advanced topics, it’s all there to transform you into a Power BI expert.
  • Up-to-Date Content – The latest edition has been expanded to include more in-depth concepts.
  • Highly Accessible – Reader-friendly writing make it suitable for individuals with varying levels of expertise.
  • Community Endorsement: Praised by professionals in the field, the book comes highly recommended for anyone involved in business intelligence.

Best Books for Learning Power BI DAX

The Definitive Guide to DAX

The Definitive Guide to DAX is written in the format of a course. It walks readers from an introduction to writing DAX formulas to advanced techniques explaining the reasons why and providing many examples along the way. While DAX is heavily used in dashboard development in Power BI it is also used heavily in Excel Power Pivot, SQL Server or Azure Analysis Services which extends the potential audience and gives you the option to expand your skillset beyond Power BI and earn more money.

Why we recommend this book:

  • Comprehensive explanation of DAX – Covers topics from beginner to advanced.
  • Includes Lots of Examples – Formulas come to life when providing examples and use cases.
  • Foundational Understanding – Explains how calculations work behind the scenes.
  • Long Term Reference Guide – Useful as an ongoing reference after initially reading it.

Extreme DAX

DAX is a cornerstone of Power BI. Extreme DAX goes into great detail on how to utilize DAX and understand it at a foundational level. We highly recommend people interested in becoming professional Power BI developers invest in a good reference guide. It can not only save you time, but DAX may be the only option available when working with specific data sets or SSAS Tabular Models.

Why we recommend this book:

  • Hands-On Practice – Includes datasets and visuals for each chapter for hands-on learning.
  • Quick Desk Reference – Ideal for quick look-ups, with DAX concepts broken down into digestible chunks.
  • Advanced User-Friendly – a problem-solving reference guide for intermediate and advanced users.
  • Comprehensive Coverage: Includes fundamental DAX concepts and practical business applications.
  • Explains Power BI architecture – Also covers data modeling, optimization, and Power BI architecture in depth.

Best Books for Learning Data Visualization and Dashboard Design

The Big Book of Dashboards

This book is a must-have if you want to elevate your skills in data visualization and presenting information on a dashboard. The big book of dashboards places a strong emphasis on design principles to compliment technical know-how. The book goes beyond surface-level information to explain the ‘why’ behind effective data storytelling. Whether you’re a seasoned Power BI developer or a newcomer, the book provides invaluable best practices and design tips that can be revisited time and again.

Why we recommend this book:

  • Design Focused -The book places a strong emphasis on design principles helping you create beautiful professional dashboards.
  • Practical Examples: – Real-world examples and case studies are used to illustrate best practices.
  • Depth of Content – This guide delves deep into dashboard design theory making it a great resource for both beginners and experts.
  • Up-to-Date: Includes contemporary innovations in data visualization, keeping you ahead of the curve.

Storytelling with Data

Storytelling with Data is filled with ideas of how to build better dashboards and visualizations. It can help your dashboards stand out and go beyond presenting a chart or graph of data points to becoming something that is truly informative and easy to read for the end user. The book includes many real-life examples and helps developers think through which parts of a report are truly important and should be highlighted. While there are some limitations of being able to re-create some of the visuals in Power BI it does a great job of explaining how to present complex information in an understandable way.

Why we recommend this book:

  • Explains when to Choose Different Charts – While seemingly simple, the book explains when to use certain types of visuals over others. It’s an essential skill in Power BI.
  • Lots of Examples – New ideas to present data in uncommon and more visually interesting ways.
  • Data Visualization Theory – The book dives into design principals explaining why you should create dashboards and present data in specific ways.
  • End User Oriented – A key focus of the book is keeping the end user in mind, how to grab their attention with visuals and present it in a concise meaningful way.

Best Books for learning Power BI Data Modeling

The Data Warehouse Toolkit

The Definitive Guide to Dimensional Modeling by Ralph Kimball is considered one of the most authoritative texts in regard to data warehouses and data modeling. Often used as a college textbook it is an invaluable resource for professionals in the field of data warehousing and business intelligence. The book starts with foundational concepts and progresses to more complex scenarios, all backed by real-world case studies from various industries.

Why we recommend this book:

  • Authoritative – The book is so well known within the data modeling world that its likely you will work with data engineering teams and database admins who are familiar with it.
  • Comprehensive – Covering basic design to complex scenarios, making it great for beginners and experts.
  • Updated Edition: This third edition incorporates the latest trends, including new and enhanced star schema modeling patterns.
  • Real-world Case Studies: Offers insights from a variety of industries like retail, healthcare, and financial services, to provide a comprehensive view of best practices.
  • Covers ETL Techniques: Includes ETL techniques that can be useful for Power BI data modeling.
  • Query Optimization – Learn how to design dimensional models optimized to improve query speed.

Star Schema the Complete Reference

If you ask a seasoned Power BI developer, they will often recommend learning about Star Schemas prior to learning DAX and other Power BI features. The reason is that most modern databases and data warehouse solutions are created using a Star Schema. It’s a fundamental of data modeling and the backbone of data visualization. Sar Schema the Complete Reference takes you step-by-step through various aspects of star schemas, dimensional design, and more. This book not only serves as a comprehensive tutorial but also as a long-term reference for professionals in the data architecture space.

Why we recommend this book:

  • Comprehensive – The book offers a complete walkthrough of traditional data warehouse star schema, including fact tables, dimensions, hierarchies, bridges, and more.
  • Practical Applications – Focus on real-world applications and scenarios.
  • Instructional Tone -Written in a mentor-like voice, this book anticipates and answers readers’ questions, facilitating better comprehension.
  • Highly Detailed – Rich with examples and case studies, it provides detailed information about star schemas and compares them with snowflake schemas to better understand additional data models.

Best Books to Compliment Power BI Development Skills

Python Programming and SQL

You could spend an entire career learning the nuances of Python and SQL. As a Power BI developer its useful to have at least a working understanding of these two languages. Much of the data that you will work with comes from a data source being queried by SQL in the form of databases and data warehouses. As data lakes become more prevalent in the workplace there will be an increased expectation to understand Python or Spark. This is one of the few books that provides functional knowledge of both topics to help future proof your skillset.

  • Teaches Python and SQL at the Same Time – While its an unorthodox approach it covers two of the most common programming and query languages that developers are likely to run into.
  • Beginner Friendly – Topics are well written and approachable for people new to programming.
  • Includes Real World Examples – Concepts come to life when explaining them using real world examples of when to use each concept.
  • Up to Date Content – Recently updated it includes concepts applicable to the latest versions of both Python and SQL.

The Visual MBA

This Visual MBA offers a comprehensive, visually engaging tour through the core tenets of business and management. It’s essentially a condensed version of an MBA program. It’s a quick read that provides context for the many different dashboards that Power BI developers are asked to create. It also helps new data analysts bridge the gap between business requirements, and technical development.

Key Reasons We Recommend Reading This Book:

  • Visual Learning – The book makes use of illustrations and pictures to facilitate understanding, making it easier to grasp complex business concepts.
  • Comprehensive Coverage – A broad range of business topics from finance and marketing to strategy and common KPIs.
  • Time-Efficient – Being a condensed version, it allows you to understand core MBA topics in a shorter time frame than a traditional course would require.
  • Practical Insights – Numerous reviews indicate that the book contains practical advice and guidelines, which have been found useful by both existing and aspiring business professionals.
  • Ideal for Refresher Courses – Even if you have an MBA or extensive business experience, the book serves as a quick and easy-to-understand refresher on crucial business principles.

Accounting QuickStart Guide

While DAX is a cornerstone of Power BI Development, Accounting is a cornerstone of business. Many of the reporting dashboards, KPIs and other calculations that you work on will have an intersection with the accounting world. The Accounting QuickStart Guide is meant to provide a functional understanding of different aspects of financial accounting and managerial accounting. Knowing some accounting can be a great differentiator when building reports for business users.

  • Simple and Accessible – Power BI Developers need a decent working knowledge of accounting but not necessarily a CPA. The Accounting QuickStart Guide bridges the gap.
  • Beginner Friendly – Topics are presented in a clear logical way that build on each other from one chapter to the next.
  • Broad Range of Topics – Whether you are creating dashboards of small, medium, or large businesses the accounting concepts you are likely to come across at each are covered at a reasonable depth.
  • Hands on Exercises – The book includes exercises to put what you read to use giving you the ability to practice with hands on learning.


Whether you are completely new to business intelligence and Power BI or an experienced Power BI developer the books on this list will help you improve and expand upon your skillset. Many of the books listed go into a greater depth than what is available online and can be used as a long-term trusted reference guide.

We highly encourage readers to invest time beyond the core concepts of Power BI dashboard building and learn complimentary skillsets. While we believe that Power BI Certificates Can be Useful they are really only a beginning point. To achieve a higher salary and rate of pay, companies will value well rounded employees that have a wider breadth of knowledge and experience.

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