Tuesday, January 02, 2024

Lesson 33 - Waterfall chart in Power BI Desktop

Waterfall charts are best in visualizing changes in data over time, across categories, or to specifically look into major changes. It also shows positive and negative values against target values. It is also known as bridge chart.

In a waterfall chart, each change is represented by a column. These columns are color-coded to make it easy to see whether they represent increases or decreases in the value.

How to Proceed?

Step 1
Launch power BI desktop app and open the new report page and import the data required. 

Step 2
In “Visualizations” pane click on “Waterfall chart” which is highlighted in the given figure. 

Step 3
Drag the data fields into “Field Section “that we want to compare and analyze. 

Category: Shows high-level segments we want to analyze-

Breakdown: Shows detailed components that changes - Sport

Y-Axis: Represents medal count

Legend: It is used to label and describe the segments or slices

in the pie chart, helping viewers to understand what each part represents 

Step 4:
Filters in Power BI allows us to control and shape the data as per our needs. Here we are showing the page level filter where we can display only the data we want to show in reports or dashboards. By slicing and dicing the data we can gain insights from it.

Here, we used filters in sport (Top 4 sport by medal) and in Year (Year from 2000 to 2016).

Step 5:

Customizing the appearance of Waterfall chart

You can customize the appearance of the visual.  You can change Title, Font size, Style, Colours and Data labels. Click anywhere on the visual and set the below properties in the Format section.

In this visual, I chose background colour as blue and gave 87% transparency which reduces the intensity of the colour.

Give suitable title for the visual and customize the font size, colour and position of the title.
Chose Colours for the line to show different categories.

We can change the color of the columns in On the Visualizations > Format visual pane, select Columns 

We can set the category breakdown by clicking On the Visualizations > Format visual pane, select Breakdown, and set the Maximum breakdowns 
Here for this visual I set the breakdown value to 4

Sorting the chart: To sort based on specific field, click on the chart, click on three dots at the top right-hand side of the chart.

Step 6  Save the visual
Finally, your waterfall chart is ready. Click save button to save the visual. 

When to use waterfall chart?

  • Waterfall chart represent changes across time or different categories
  • It helps on visualizing both positive and negative changes and understand the relationships between data points

  • Waterfall chart is only suited for visualizing limited number of data points.
  • Not suitable for all type of data.


Waterfall charts are a data visualization tool with both strengths and limitations. They are particularly useful for representing changes over time or categories. Waterfall charts can enhance data clarity, support decision-making, and provide a straightforward and powerful way to present information.

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