The new Format pane in Power BI

APPLIES TO: Power BI Desktop Power BI service

The redesigned Format pane is now generally available and on by default in both Power BI Desktop and the Power BI service. This article explains the biggest changes we’ve made, to improve usability and consistency across visual and non-visual elements.

Thank you for providing feedback throughout the preview. We’re still interested in your comments. Submit feedback on the Power BI Ideas site.

Recent updates

December 2022

Slicer formatting has moved to the Format pane.

  • Settings that used to be in the header of the slicer visual are now in the Format pane.
  • The horizontal format has been renamed to the tile format, based on customer feedback.
  • The mobile formatting options now have access to this tile setting, too.

See the article Slicers in Power BI for details.

June 2022

Improvements this month:

  • When you change Canvas settings > Type to Tooltip, we automatically set Allow use as tooltip to On to save you a step.
  • Fixed a blocking bug to ensure that the Analytics pane works for custom visuals, where applicable.
  • Fixed a bug that removed log scale applied to the horizontal axis. This affected line, area, stacked area, combo, or scatter charts set prior to April 2022 reports. The issue has now been resolved.

May 2022

Here are the improvements we added in May 2022:

  • We added a user preference setting to expand all subcategories when you open a category card. Go to Options > Report settings, and under Format pane, select Expand all subcategories by default when you open a category.
  • We readded Analytics pane support for custom visuals.
  • We readded No fill for Title background, Tooltips background, and Header icons Help tooltip background color pickers.
  • We added color back to all color swatches for easier searching.
  • We readded the Conditional formatting card for the decomposition tree visual.
  • To help with adjusting to the new naming conventions, we added an alias for the renamed Conditional formatting card, which is now called Cell elements. When you search for “conditional formatting” for a matrix or table, we display the Cell elements.

April 2022

Here are the improvements we added in April 2022:

  • Shape map custom color has been reintroduced.
  • Scatter chart show blank values toggle has been reintroduced.
  • Slicers with slider type (between, before, after) responsive toggle has been reintroduced.
  • Button icon size setting has been reintroduced.
  • Issue causing delay in cursor position for text input boxes is resolved.

February 2022

Here are the improvements we added in February 2022:

  • Ability to toggle axis title independent of axis has been readded.
  • Ability to add shade area to combo charts has been readded.
  • Ability to customize marker shape by series for scatter charts has been readded.
  • Outline settings for matrix and table have been readded.
  • Minor reordering of the field wells within the Build pane to match the order of the new Format pane cards for pie chart, donut chart, and scatter chart.

New pivot icons

We’ve updated the format tab icon and added a descriptive subtitle to make it easier to find the Format pane. Previously, it was hard to find the format page settings. We’ve added a new Format page icon that you see when you haven't selected any visuals, and the canvas is ready for formatting.

Old Format pane New Format pane
Screenshot of the old Format pane icon. Screenshot of new Format page icon.

Screenshot of new Format visual icon.

To address the limited vertical space on the Format pane, we’ve moved the Visualization types gallery to be present only on the Build tab.

Old Format pane New Format pane
Screenshot of old Visualizations pane. Screenshot of location of new Visualizations pane.

Splitting specific vs. general settings

We've split the long list of formatting cards into two categories: visual specific vs. general settings. The general settings contain cards that affect the visual container and are consistent across all visual types. The visual specific settings contain cards that pertain only to the visual type you’re currently working with. This change allows for easier adjustment of general settings when you click across visuals, better scannability and discovery of visual specific cards, and helps new users learn where to find what.

Old Format pane New Format pane
Screenshot of old list of formatting cards. Screenshot of new Visuals and General groupings of cards.

New global reset to default

On the More options (...) menu, you can return all settings back to default. This option is especially helpful when you want your visuals to reflect your theme styling.

Screenshot of new Reset all settings to defaults.

Expand subcategories

You’ll notice that within the cards we've broken up the settings further into subcategories. Breaking them up improves readability and allows you to focus on specific parts of a card at a time. We’ve also added a new context menu for navigating these new subcategories. You can right-click a card to expand all the subcategories at once, or collapse them all for quick scanning and scrolling.

  1. In the Format pane, select More options.

    Screenshot of new expand and collapse subcategories.

  2. Select Expand all subcategories by default when you open a category.

    Screenshot of Options dialog box with Format pane, Expand all subcategories.

All cards exposed

We expose all cards for visuals, whether you can set them or not. They have helpful tooltips on what actions to take to enable the cards.

Merged font settings

Across the Format pane, we’ve merged font family and font size onto a single line. Again, we want to reduce vertical space and to better align with Office.

Old Format pane New Format pane
Screenshot of old font settings. Screenshot of new font settings.

Customize series mechanism

The old Format pane repeated the same list of settings after toggling Customize series to On. We've consolidated this list into an Apply settings to dropdown that lets you easily switch between updating the settings for all series or a particular series without having to scroll.

Old Format pane New Format pane
Screenshot of old customize series. Screenshot of new customize series.

Button states mechanism

Similar to customizing a series, we’ve consolidated the button style cards. Consolidation allows us to use one Apply settings to dropdown to easily toggle between button states and update various aspects of the style.

Old Format pane New Format pane
Screenshot of old button state cards. Screenshot of new button state cards

In a small but mighty change, we’ve added the same yellow highlight you see in the Fields list and Filter pane to the Format pane search results. When in search mode, results will reflect contents from both the visual and general pivots.

Old Format pane New Format pane
Screenshot of no highlight in the old Search experience. Screenshot of now there's a highlight in the new Search experience.

Order, naming, and hierarchy

Through the years, the Format pane has received many new additions but they haven't always been added consistently. It’s hard, especially for new users, to learn where things are when cards and settings constantly jump around. Or the name of a setting in one visual is called something entirely different in another. We’ve rearranged, renamed, added missing units, and consolidated cards/settings to behave consistently across visuals.

Consolidated outline settings for matrix and table

We consolidated the outline settings for matrix and tables, so you can set them from the Grid card. Previously users had to use the Grid card to set the color and width, then navigate to each section of the matrix to adjust the border location. With this update, you can adjust the borders for the whole matrix and refine each section from the same place within the Grid card.

Old behavior New behavior
Screenshot of old outline format experience. Screenshot of new outline format experience.

Split column and row grand totals

In the previous Format pane settings, changing grand totals for a matrix would affect both rows and columns. In the new Format pane, you can format each separately.

Old behavior New behavior
Screenshot of old totals format experience. Screenshot of new totals format experience.

Legend location options

With the new Format pane, you can be more precise about legend location.

Old behavior New behavior
Screenshot of old legend location options. Screenshot of new legend location options.

Considerations and limitations

Some features aren't available yet in the current version of the new Format pane.

  • Some visuals, such as Azure maps, Esri maps, Power Automate, and decomposition tree, haven't been updated with subcategories yet.

Next steps

Get started with Power BI Desktop