Step-By-Step: Creating A Power BI Dashboard

A dashboard is a single page designed to visually display a combination of data visuals that give someone a clear understanding of the underlying data very quickly.

It is a great way for you to visualise your information

A well-designed dashboard should require little or no explanation and uses visualisations (for example, a pie chart, bar chart, or Gantt chart) from the report to tell a compelling story.

For non-technical people who have heard of ‘big data’ using a power bi dashboard to view data is their first experience of business intelligence. The ability to quickly turn unintelligible database data into actionable information is the key benefit of training to use Power BI. If you would like an introduction to Power BI our see: What Is Power BI?

A dashboard in Microsoft Power BI is a single page in Power BI service (often called a canvas) created from a report page. The report is usually published to Power BI service from Power BI desktop.

Power BI Dashboard Example

Power BI dashboards are generally limited to a single page. As they are only a single page, this means that your dashboard cannot contain all of your data and graphs. You have to be selective and only include the most critical visuals.

It is possible to create dashboards that contain more than one page. These are known as multi-page dashboards to distinguish them from a standard one-page dashboard.

The visualisations on the dashboard above are called tiles and are pinned to a dashboard from the report published to Power BI Service from the Power BI desktop.

In most scenarios, clicking a tile in the dashboard within the Power BI service interface takes you to the report page where the visualisations were created.

What Is A Report Page?

A report page is a blank reporting canvas at heart. It is similar to an Excel workbook with multiple tabs.

Reports give dynamic insights into your data with the help of visualisations.

For more detail on reports, please see this article.

Example Power BI Report Page

PRO TIP: Dashboards can also be viewed and shared on mobile devices. More information on that, at the end of this article.


Where Can You Create A New Dashboard?

You can create a dashboard in either Power BI Desktop or Power BI Service.

However, as dashboards are a feature of Power BI service, not Power BI desktop, you can only share a dashboard in Power BI service.

You can also view and share dashboards in Power BI mobile apps, but you can’t create them.

The graphic below gives a quick overview of the difference between Power BI service and Power BI desktop. If you want more details on the differences, see this article on the difference between Power BI desktop and services.

Power BI Report vs Power BI Dashboard

Reports and dashboards are dependent on each other but quite different.

It is important to understand the differences between them.

Below are the key differences:

  • Power BI dashboards are used to visualise and derive essential insights from Power BI data. They contain information combined into a single page from different reports. Reports are displays of other datasets, especially after data analysis and modelling.
  • Reports are the information providers to dashboards, and the information can be in formats like text, table, charts, etc.
  • A dashboard is not available in the desktop version. Reports can be created and viewed in the desktop version.
  • A dashboard can use different data sources for its data visualisations. Only one dataset can be used as a source for a report.
  • You can pin an existing dashboard to another dashboard using the dashboard navigation feature in Power BI services. Power BI reports can pin or navigate to any report or dashboard.
  • Power BI dashboards cannot slice and dice data. Reports contain many different ways to slice and dice data.


Comparison Between Power BI desktop and Power BI service

Creating A Simple Power BI Dashboard Step-by-Step

Let’s look at how you publish a report from Power BI desktop to Power BI service.

We will start with the sample report on the Master Data report page, as shown below.

Creating A Power BI Dashboard Step 1

Select a Report page, go to the Home tab.

Click on Publish

Input your Sign in Identification to sign in to your Power BI account.

After you’ve successfully signed in to your Power BI account, it will show you the list of all workspaces in your Power BI service that you might want to publish your report to.

Select a destination or workspace for your dashboard.

Publishing a dashboard


You will receive a Success! Message when it’s done.

Now that your report is in the right place in Power BI services, it’s time to create a dashboard.

There are two ways you can assemble or create a Power BI dashboard.

Method 1: Pin individual visuals called tiles to a new or existing dashboard.

Method 2: Pin the entire report as a page to a dashboard.


Method 1: Pinning Tiles To A Dashboard

On a report page in the Power BI service, hover over an individual visual (for example, a Q&A visual), and a pushpin icon will appear. If you click the pin, it will pin the visual to an existing or a new dashboard.

You will receive a message telling you, “The visualisation has been pinned to your dashboard” from there, you have an option to go directly to your dashboard with a single click of the mouse.

Pinning Tiles To A Dashboard


PRO TIP: There is no limit to the number of tiles you can pin on a dashboard, but a compelling dashboard will probably not contain more than nine visuals.


PRO TIP: Slicers have some limitations in Power BI and cannot do things like drill-downs on non-hierarchical fields. They cannot support visual-level filters, and they cannot be pinned as an individual tile. However, they can be pinned as part of a live page.

Method 2: Pinning Entire Reports To A Dashboard

Live report pages are an excellent option for creating a dashboard when you want to pin an entire report page as a single visual and retain all the interaction and filtering functionality.

To pin live pages from the report view or page, you need to click on the “Pin a live page” button.

This button will launch the same dialogue box you saw when trying to pin individual tiles.

Pinning An Entire Report To A Dashboard

PRO TIP: Pinning a live page will import slicers, preserve functionality, and reflect any updates to the dashboard.

Multi-Page Dashboards

Multi-page dashboards are unavoidable if you have a large number of reports pages or tiles you want to include in your dashboard.

You can create a navigation button (which is way beyond the scope of this article) in Power BI to easily transition between each dashboard. See tip 6 in this article for more details.

The Dashboard Interface

The dashboard interface provides different options to the toolbar menu.

Introduction To The Dashboard Interface


The toolbar provides options to add new tiles, add a new comment, create email subscriptions, and set the dashboard as featured.

Ask a Question allows you to type in a sentence using natural language to query the underlying data and create new visuals based on what you type.

Web vs Mobile Layout

Mobile layout view allows you to design your reports to be viewed by mobile users.

The right way to do this is to use the mobile layout view in the Power BI service and specifically add in a range of different visuals from your dashboard or report.

PRO TIP: You cannot build content within the Mobile Layout view; you need to build in Web Layout and assemble select visuals to share via the Power BI mobile app.

Web Vs Mobile In Power BI

Final Thoughts

Dashboards are a great way to allow people across your business to access actionable information.

Learning how to create them is a great first step to rolling them out, and being able to describe how to can be very useful in Power BI related job interviews.

Once you have created them Power BI’s new capabilities like the smart narrative visual, allow you to create executive summaries very quickly.


About Ben Richardson

Ben is a director of Acuity Training which he has been running for over 10 years.

He is a Natural Sciences graduate from the University of Cambridge and a qualified accountant with the ICAEW.

He previously worked as a venture capitalist and banker and so had extensive experience with Excel from building financial models before moving to learn SQL, Microsoft Power BI and other technologies more recently.