How to Change a Power BI Matrix to Tabular Format

Converting a Power BI Matrix to Tabular format gives users the look of a continuous table while maintaining the advanced capabilities of the Matrix visual when compared to a standard table visual. We’ll explain how to setup the formatting options of a Matrix visual to re-create tabular formatting.

What is Power BI Matrix Tabular Formatting?

Tabular format organizes data into continuous rows and columns. It makes the presentation similar to how people are used to look at tables, spreadsheets, or databases and is optimal for exporting to a various other system. Each row represents an individual record. Columns are fully separated instead of being nested or indented below the categories they belong to.

The following example shows the default Matrix format on the left and an adjusted tabular format on the right.

Example of the standard Power BI Matrix format compared to a matrix  with updated formatting to a tabular format

Change a Power BI Matrix to Tabular Format with Stepped Layout

Changing a Power BI Matrix to Tabular formatting requires changing several options under the Format Your Visual Panel. You’ll need to disable Row Subtotals and Stepped Layout while enabling Repeat Row on Header. The following will step you through each one.

1.) Go to Format Your Visual Settings

Select the Matrix visual, and click on format your visual settings in the visualizations panel.

Click Format your visual to find stepped layout, tabular format, and subtotal settings

2.) Disable Stepped Layout or Enable Tabular Layout

This setting will vary depending on which version of Power BI Desktop you are running. Newer versions allow you to change the Layout Style to Tabular, while older versions require you to disable the stepped layout.

Older versions: Navigate to Row Headers > Options > Stepped Layout

Newer Versions: Navigate to Layout and Style Presets > Layout > Tabular

The tabular layout option in a Power BI Matrix visual and stepped layout option in older versions

The resulting change will get rid of the nested rows and place each column into its own individual column like a table.

Image of a Power BI Matrix with stepped layout disabled or Tabular Layout enabled depending on version

3.) Disable Subtotals and Grand Totals

Next, disable Row Subtotals. You may also need to disable column subtotals or grand totals depending on how many fields are assigned to your visual. All subtotal and grand total options are available under the Format Your Visual panel.

Disabling Row Subtotals in a Power BI Matrix to get closer to a tabular format

4.) Enable Repeat Row Labels

In newer versions of Power BI, there is an option under Layout and Style Presets to enable Repeat Row Headers. Enable this option to automatically fill columns down. Older versions of Power BI require you to use the Table visual as the disabled stepped layout will not automatically fill down.

The repeat row headers option enabled in a Power BI Matrix set to Tabular format for repeating rows

Power BI Matrix Vs Table Visuals

Power BI comes with two different visuals that allow you to place date in tabular formats. The Matrix visual requires updating several formatting options, and some of the options are only available in more recent versions of Power BI Desktop. In older versions you would have to use the Table Visual.

Once formatted, the two visuals look nearly identical, as shown below:

Example of a Matrix Visual and Table Visual side by side in Power BI

The biggest difference is that there are some formatting options not available in the Table format and you lose the ability to drill down and expand data with a Table.

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