Waterfall charts in Power BI

APPLIES TO: Power BI Desktop Power BI service

Waterfall charts show a running total as Power BI adds and subtracts values. These charts are useful for understanding how an initial value (like net income) is affected by a series of positive and negative changes.

The columns are color coded so you can quickly notice increases and decreases. The initial and the final value columns often start on the horizontal axis, while the intermediate values are floating columns. Because of this style, waterfall charts are also called bridge charts.

Screenshot of a waterfall chart example.

When to use a waterfall chart

Waterfall charts are a great choice:

  • When you have changes for the measure across time, a series, or different categories.

  • To audit the major changes contributing to the total value.

  • To plot your company's annual profit by showing various sources of revenue and arrive at the total profit (or loss).

  • To illustrate the beginning and the ending headcount for your company in a year.

  • To visualize how much money you make and spend each month, and the running balance for your account.


This tutorial uses the Retail Analysis Sample.

  1. Download the sample PBIX file to your desktop.

  2. Open Power BI Desktop, and from the menu bar, select File > Open report.

  3. Browse to the Retail Analysis Sample PBIX.pbix file, then select Open.

  4. On the left pane, select the Report icon to open the file in report view.

  5. Select to add a new page.


Sharing your report with a Power BI colleague requires that you both have individual Power BI Pro licenses or that the report is saved in Premium capacity.

Create a waterfall chart

You'll create a waterfall chart that displays sales variance (estimated sales versus actual sales) by month.

  1. From the Fields pane, select Sales > Total Sales Variance.

    Screenshot of Total Sales Variance field selected and the visual that results.

  2. Select the Waterfall chart icon.

    Screenshot of Visualizations pane with Waterfall icon selected.

  3. Select Time > FiscalMonth to add it to the Category well.

    Screenshot of the total Sales Variance by FiscalMonth waterfall chart.

Sort the waterfall chart

  1. Make sure Power BI sorts the waterfall chart chronologically by month. From the top-right corner of the chart, select More options (...).

    For this example, select Sort by and choose FiscalMonth. A check mark next to your selection indicates when your selection option has been applied.

    Screenshot of options box with Sort by FiscalMonth selected.

    To display the months in chronological order, select Sort ascending.

    Screenshot of options box with Select sort by Ascending order.

    Notice that your chart is sorted from January to August for FiscalMonth.

Explore the waterfall chart

Dig in a little more to see what's contributing most to the changes month to month.

  1. Select Store > Territory, which will add Territory to the Breakdown bucket.

    Screenshot that shows adding Territory to the Breakdown area.

    Power BI uses the value in Breakdown to add more data to the visualization. It adds the top five contributors to increases or decreases for each fiscal month. February, for example, now has six data points instead of just one.

    Screenshot of Territory field added to the Breakdown bucket.

    Let's say that you're only interested in the top two contributors.

  2. In the Format pane, select Breakdown and set Max breakdowns to 2.

    Screenshot of Max Breakdowns set to two breakdowns.

    A quick review reveals that the territories of Ohio and Pennsylvania are the biggest contributors to movement, both negative and positive, in your waterfall chart.

    Screenshot of waterfall chart with territories that are the biggest contributors highlighted.

Next steps