Learn how to create Power BI Dropdown Slicers, Vertical list Slicers, Date Slicers, and more! Power BI offers a number of Slicer formatting options to fit your dashboard design. We’ll also explain how to enable the selection of multiple items.
Power BI slicers are a vital component of dashboard and report development. They give report viewers the ability to quickly and easily apply filters to reports. Developers love them because they have a wide range of styles and formatting options to make them stick out or blend in with the design of an overall dashboard.
Let’s take a look at the different ways Power BI developers can setup Power BI slicers!
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What are Power BI Slicers?
Power BI Slicers are filters that are placed directly onto a report canvas. Report viewers can interact with them to filter visuals displayed on a report page. Slicers come in a variety of styles and are highly customizable with a wide range of formatting. options.
Slicers are an important part of Power BI development. The true potential of Power BI is unlocked when one report can be published to a wide range of business users that can pull up a report and explore it on demand and manipulate data to see it in the view that is most important to them.
A big part of deploying self-service reporting is through the use of Slicers and Filters.
When to Use Power BI Slicers vs Filters
Slicers should not be confused with Power BI filters. Power BI allows users to filter their reports using two methods, they can either use a slicer or they can use the Filter Panel. The Filter Panel is displayed on the right side of Power BI Desktop, as well as published reports on the Power BI Service.
Once the Power BI Filter panel is expanded, users can click on different visuals and modify the view of that specific visualization by filtering the fields that have been assigned to it. The following screenshot is of the filter panel in Power BI.
Check out our guide explaining the differences between Power BI Filters and Slicers to learn more about each one, and specific use cases where you might choose one over the other.
The Different Types of Power BI Slicers
Power BI Slicers come in four different styles. Each one has its own set of configurations and formatting options that can be adjusted to fit the style and design of your report.
The four types of slicers are:
- Date Selectors – Slicers can be for a date range, before or after a date, or a specific date can be selected.
- Dropdown Menus – Dropdown menus are a compact way to click on a single line item and expand a list down.
- Tiles – Tile slicer present possible selections as buttons that can be presented horizontally or vertically.
- Vertical Lists – The most traditional slicer that shows a full list to select or multi-select items.
The following screenshot shows a quick overview of each selection type in their default formatting.
From left to right: Date Selector, Dropdown Menu, Tiles, Vertical List.
Each one of these slicer styles can be highly customized. There is also some overlap. For example, a date range selector can be configured to present dates in a vertical list or dropdown menu. The options available for the style of slicer is also determined by the data type of the field being presented.
How to Create a Power BI Slicer
The first step to creating a Power BI slicer is the same regardless of the style of slicer being added to a report. From the Power BI Report View, click on the Slicer Visual on the Visualizations Panel to add it to your report. Once added, drag and drop a field or column name to the Slicer to activate the filter.
These are the steps in more detail.
Step 1.) Insert a Slicer identified by the small report icon with a filter symbol in front of it from the Visualizations panel.
Step. 2.) Add a field from the Data panel to the Field section of the newly created Power BI Slicer. A fully setup slicer will look like the following.
It’s also possible to add multiple fields to a slicer. When you add multiple columns to a single slicer, you can place them in order under the Field section and Power BI will automatically put them in a hierarchy that users can filter by or expand and filter on individual sub-sections.
Slicers that filter data types other than dates will default to a Vertical List. Let’s look at how to change a Power BI slicer a Dropdown menu.
How to Make a Power BI Dropdown Slicer
To make a Power BI Dropdown slicer, add a slicer visual to your report by selecting Slicer from the Visualizations panel. Once created, assign a column or columns to the Field section of the Slicer. With the slicer selected, click on Format your Visual, expand the Slicer Settings and change the Style to Dropdown.
The following screenshot shows the format options button on the visualizations panel. It’s notated by a chart with a paint brush in front of it.
The first option is Slicer Settings at the Top. Expand it to see the adjust Style option and change it to Dropdown.
The formatting of a slicer will automatically be updated to a dropdown menu, like the one shown below.
A dropdown slicer can further be modified with different color schemes, backgrounds, text, and titles.
How to Make a Power BI Horizontal Slicer using Tiles
To make a Horizontal Slicer in Power BI try using the Tile style. Tiles are presented like buttons that will adjust based on the width and height of the visual. First, add a slicer visual to your report by selecting Slicer from the Visualizations panel. Once created, assign a column Field section of the Slicer. With the slicer selected, click on Format your Visual, expand the Slicer Settings and change the Style to Tile.
Note: When using a Tile slicer, you can only have a single field assigned to the slicer. If multiple fields are assigned to a slicer the Tile option will not be selectable.
After the new slicer style is selected the slicer will show all presentation options as buttons or tiles. In the example below the visualization was made to be wider than it is high. However, you can change the shape of the visual to create a vertical bar or box of options.
Tiles are appropriate when there are a small number of choices available that you want to make more prominent in your report. Think of things like switching between an income statement or balance sheet, or selecting a specific month of the year where options are limited to a maximum of 12.
How to Make a Date Slicer in Power BI
Date slicers are automatically generated when adding a field with a Date Data Type to a slicer. To create a new slicer, select the slicer visual from the visualizations panel, and assign a date column to the Field value of the newly created slicer.
Date slicers automatically create a sliding bar to let you choose the beginning and end date. Power BI will automatically filter the data to the dates between these two points.
Additional date slicer options are available under Format your Visual, Slicer Settings, Options, Style. These options allow you to adjust the style and data validation options of your date selection even further. The options available include:
- Vertical List – Shows all available dates as a selectable list.
- Tile – Shows all available dates as buttons or tiles.
- Between – The default setting to select a start and end date
- Before – Similar to the default but only allows selection of a start date
- After – Similar to the default but only allows selection of an end date
- Dropdown – Same as standard dropdown format
- Relative Date – Allows you to select items like last N days, N months, N years etc.
- Relative Time – Similar to relative date but only works with Date Time columns.
The following screenshot highlights setting up a date slicer to a different style of filtering than the default selection of dates between.
Note: Date slicers are incredibly useful. At times you may want to create a date table and only allow users to select groups of dates such as months, quarters, or years. When dates are assigned to a date hierarchy you can drag and drop subsections of a date column into a date slicer for even more granular control.
How to Make a Power BI Vertical List Slicer
The Vertical List slicer is the default when creating a new slicer that does not include a date field. To adjust a slicer back to the standard Vertical List slicer, select an existing slicer, and navigate to Format your Slicer on the Visualizations panel, Visual, Slicer Settings, Options, and select Vertical List Slicer. The style of slicer can be modified at any time by navigating to these settings and changing the slicer style.
How to Format Power BI Slicers
Slicers can be formatted to change the background color, font color, title, border, and even the background of the dropdown menu or other elements. All of the formatting options for a slicer are available under the Format Your Visual Options when your slicer is selected.
Under Format Your Visual formatting settings are split between Visual and General. Visual settings are mostly related to the text formatting or tiles while General are more related to coloring of the background,
Tip: We often find it difficult to remember which specific setting is available under each group of the Format Visual Options panel and rely heavily on the Search box at the top of the Format your visual panel. Try searching for keywords like “background” and the list will automatically be limited to background color choices.
Enabling Search Boxes on Power BI Slicers
Power BI developers can include a search box in a Power BI slicer by right clicking the … button at the top right of a slicer and selecting “Search”. The search option will be enabled and give users the ability to type into a search box to automatically filter the values within the slicer.
Microsoft also publishes a Search visualization that can be added to Power BI that is not included by default. It’s a great tool to let users automatically search for a value and filter an entire page. Check out our guide to adding search boxes and search box filtering in Power BI.
Slicers are a fundamental part of dashboard design in Power BI. Dashboard designers have their choice of dropdown slicers, vertical lists, tile buttons, and a range of date pickers, All of the slicers are highly customizable with a range of color, font, title, and other formatting options.
For an even more dynamic slicer, try enabling a search box to let people search from a filtered list of slicer options. To give people less options that are more visible, you could try using a tile slicer that gives people large buttons they can choose from.
The filtering options with slicers are almost limitless!