How to Group Visuals Together in Power BI

Grouping Power BI visuals together can be a big time save and result in a more professional looking report. While many Power BI developers focus on things like data models and DAX, it’s easy to overlook basic design principals like padding and white space. By utilizing the Power BI visual grouping feature you can efficiently create professional looking reports.

Grouping multiple visuals elements together in Power BI can be done with the mouse or with the Power BI Ribbon. It's best practice to align and use white space or padding prior to grouping.

Grouping visuals in Power BI is a method to make two individual visuals, like a pie chart and a matrix visual act like one combined design element. Once they’re grouped you can move them around as one component letting you set them up once and avoid having to re-format and re-align them.

Let’s jump in!

How to Group Visuals in Power BI

To group two or more visuals together in Power BI, either drag your mouse across multiple visuals to select them or hold down CTRL + Left-Click on each visual to multi-select. Once the visuals are selected, right-click anywhere on a visuals and go to Group > Group from the dropdown menu.

Right clicking multiple visual elements in Power BI and selecting Group or Ungroup options

Grouping options, along with visual alignment settings are available in the Format section of the Power BI Ribbon. You can use the Group button to add visuals to a group after multi-selecting them or you can ungroup them in a similar method.

How to group visuals in Power BI using the Format Ribbon

The format section has a number of useful tools that can be utilized, such as enabling the Selection Panel to select individual components and toggle visibility of visuals once they’ve been grouped.

How to Use the Selection Panel in Power BI

After grouping multiple visuals together, it can be a pain to select the visual you want with your mouse. Microsoft provides Power BI developers with the ability to select individual visuals based on the layer order. To see the visual elements in a group, enable the Selection Panel from the Format section of the Power BI Ribbon.

Screenshot of multiple visuals being selected with the Power BI Selection Pane after they've been grouped

Once enabled, you can click on each element from the Selection Panel and it will be selected within the report.

The screenshot above uses Power BI On Object Editing, the future of the Power BI Interface. It’s a preview feature as of writing but is likely to be launched to a wired audience soon.

Note: The selection panel also allows you to set the order of which objects are selected when using the keyboard to navigate a Power BI Dashboard under the Tab Order section.

Toggling Visibility within Groups

Managing the visibility of groups and individual visuals is also possible using the Selection pane. Click the eye icon next to a group or visual to toggle its visibility. This feature is crucial for decluttering reports and focusing on specific data segments. It’s also commonly used in conjunction with Bookmarks to create reports that are more dynamic than what’s typically possible with a single visual.

Aligning Visuals in Power BI to Ensuring a Clean Report

To align visualizations in Power BI, select multiple visuals by either dragging your mouse across them while holding down the left-mouse button, or hold down CTRL + left-click on the visuals you want to multi-select. Then go to the Format section of the Power BI Ribbon and select Align.

By utilizing the Align features it ensures a cleaner report. Viewers won’t be distracted by lines that are slightly off or don’t quite match up.

Screenshot of the Alignment section of the Power BI Format Tab

Power BI provides several options under the Format, Align section.

  • Alignment Options – With your visuals selected, navigate to the ‘Format’ tab. Here, you will find alignment options such as ‘Align Left’, ‘Align Center’, ‘Align Right’, ‘Align Top’, ‘Align Middle’, and ‘Align Bottom’. These options allow you to align the edges or centers of the selected visuals either horizontally or vertically.
  • Distributing Evenly – For evenly spaced visuals, use the ‘Distribute Horizontally’ or ‘Distribute Vertically’ options. This ensures equal spacing between the visuals, enhancing the report’s aesthetic and readability.

Another method you can use to ensure that visuals are aligned properly is to enable the Snap To Grid. This feature lets you drag visuals with your mouse and automatically attempts to align them on your behalf. To enable it, go to the View tab and click Gridlines and Snap to Grid.

Alignment Best Practices

When setting up a report here are a few items to keep in mind.

  • Consistency is key. Align visuals consistently across pages for a unified look.
  • Use alignment for creating visual groups or sections within your report.
  • Aligning visuals with text boxes ensures that narratives and data visuals complement each other effectively.

The other compliment to appropriate alignment is white space.

White Space Best Practices

White space, often referred to as negative space, is the unmarked space between visuals, text, and other elements in your Power BI report. Proper use of white space and padding is crucial for creating a report that is easy to navigate and pleasant to look at.

Here are some additional best practices:

  • Balance and Focus – White space helps separate visuals and focus attention on the most important data.
  • Avoid Clutter – Overcrowding visuals and text can overwhelm users. space around elements prevents this.
  • Grouping and Separation – Use white space to group related visuals and to separate sections of your report.

Grouping Visuals with White Space and Alignment

We bring up both white space and alignment because it’s easier to do both of these steps and then group visuals together in Power BI. Once they’ve been grouped together they will move around as one single unit. If you establish guidelines or set white space between visuals and combine sections of reports into groups it will be easier for your report viewers to read.

Conclusion

Grouping Visuals in Power BI can be done by multi-selecting several visuals, then right-clicking and selecting Group. Alternatively, you can multi-select several visuals then group them by navigating to the Format, Group section of the Power BI Ribbon.

Once items are grouped they can be tricky to select individual elements. Enable the Selection Panel, also under the Format section of the Power BI Ribbon to show the layer hierarchy and navigate between elements more easily.

Another way to work more efficiently is to make sure that you set appropriate white space, alignment and padding prior to grouping multiple visuals together. Alternatively, you can enable gridlines and the ability to snap to alignment using your mouse but can be difficult to deploy if you have many different visual elements on a single page.

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