How to Change and Create Power BI Themes

Power BI themes give developers a quick way to ensure consistency of colors, fonts, and other important styles across their report. By creating a custom theme or modifying an existing Power BI theme, you can ensure that your reports are presented in a clean professional way that is more impactful.

Power BI themes allow users to update the formatting of multiple visuals at one time.

By customizing the appearance of your reports through themes, you can maintain consistency across your business’s reports, align them with your company’s brand, and make them easier to read. When colors change between report pages it can be jarring for report readers. We’ll explain what themes are, why they’re important, and some best practices to keep in mind when utilizing them.

Let’s dive in!

Why You Should Use Power BI Themes

Power BI themes are pre-defined or custom color and formatting schemes that can be applied to your Power BI reports, ensuring visual consistency and brand alignment across all of your visualizations. Themes control the color. , font style, and other visual elements within your reports.

While Power BI developers can control the color palette, font size, and other visual elements they can be difficult to manage. Unlike Excel, there is no format painter in Excel where you can copy and paste formatting, meaning if something changes you have to manually adjust all of the visuals in a report which can be extremely time consuming.

Another benefit is that themes are very quick to change, you can also download pre-made themes to help you explore different options without having to commit much time to manually adjusting a report at the individual visual level.

Tips to Selecting a Power BI Color Theme

Selecting the right color theme for your Power BI report is crucial for creating visualizations that are both appealing and easy to interpret. Consider using colors that reflect your brand for consistency across all corporate materials.

Pay attention to color contrast to ensure that your reports are accessible to viewers with visual impairments and take note to choose colors that correspond to the emotions or actions you wish to evoke in your audience. For example, it may be obvious that red is bad and green is good when presenting a KPI, but it may not be appropriate to use one of the same colors when presenting a trend that is neutral.

When selecting a Power BI color theme, it’s essential to balance aesthetic appeal with functionality. Ensure that your chosen colors enhance data readability and effectively communicate the intended message.

How to Change a Power BI Theme

Changing a theme in Power BI can be done with just a few clicks. Navigate to the View tab in Power BI Desktop and click the dropdown on the left of various charts with colors. From there, you can choose from a list of default themes, modify a theme, or import custom themes.

Where to select a pre-made Power BI theme to update your dashboard or report

When you expand the list of themes there are a number of presets available to choose from. Keep in mind the content of your dashboards, and your audience. Even if you decide to not use a specific theme it can be a quick starting point to modify further.

How to Modify a Power BI Theme

To modify or customize a Power BI Theme, navigate to the View section of the Power BI Ribbon, expand the list of charts on the left side, and select Customize Current Theme at the bottom of the dropdown. Options are available to adjust Colors, Text, Visuals, Filter Pane etc. Changes are made at the report level when saved.

How to customize a Power BI Theme

The following is a screenshot of the Customize Theme screen in Power BI. The colors shown will depend on your existing theme. Changes made will be applied to your entire report.

It’s worth noting that the definitions of Color 1, Color 2, Color 3 etc. are somewhat ambiguous but generally correspond to categories of graphs. When working with graphs and charts that have already been created the color order may not be exactly what you need, but by defining it in a theme you will quickly be able to choose one of these colors when modifying the individual graph.

Power BI theme customization options for colors, fonts, pages, and filters

When you already have exact colors picked out or trying to match another theme. You can create or modify the underlying theme file as an alternative to using the Customize Theme screen.

Modifying a Power BI theme involves editing a JSON file, which defines the elements of the theme including color palette, font styles, and visual settings. This process allows for granular control over the appearance of your reports, enabling you to create a truly customized theme that reflects your brand or project requirements precisely.

How to Override a Power BI Theme by Visual

Overriding a Power BI theme for individual visuals is possible through the formatting options available in Power BI Desktop. This capability allows users to apply custom formatting to specific charts or visuals, deviating from the general theme where necessary to highlight particular data points or to better convey specific insights.

The exact setting name may vary depending on the part of the visual being adjusted, but in general, select a visual, click on the Format Your Visual button on the Visualization Panel. Then search for a key word like Font or Colors to find the exact settings related to your visual that you want to update.

Screenshot of formatting a single visual to override theme selections

This level of customization ensures that while the overall report maintains a cohesive look, individual elements can be adjusted for clarity, emphasis, or to better suit the data they represent.

Where to Find Pre-Made Power BI Themes

Pre-made Power BI themes are available through various online platforms, including the official Power BI community theme gallery and third-party websites. These themes offer a range of options designed for various reporting needs and aesthetic preferences, allowing users to quickly find and apply a theme that suits their project.

Exploring pre-made themes can provide inspiration and save time, especially for those looking to create visually appealing reports without the need to start from scratch.

One thing we would warn people about when viewing pre-made themes is that some items can be exceptionally difficult to re-create. A lot of highly complex themes rely on embedded images for backgrounds which cannot be re-created in Power BI.

For some more tips on creating better looking dashboards, check out the following video from Guy in a Cube that covers some best practices and resources to improve your Power BI reports.

Conclusion

By understanding how to select, change, and customize themes, developers can enhance the readability and professional appearance of their reports. As a starting point, try aligning the design of your reports with an organization’s branding. People tend to give more weight to data being presented that already echos the themes and visuals that they are used to looking at.

Using Power BI themes can save you a lot of development time, allowing you to create a custom theme once and import it into other reports, or make changes to a custom theme template and have all of the visuals in a report update at one time. For one off visualizations, you still have the ability to override a theme at the visualization formatting level.

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