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Moving items in Power BI tips

Data Bear’s Monday Motivation Blog Post

Todays quick tips all has to do with moving items in Power BI on the report canvas. These tiny little tips are very helpful when creating beautiful reports, especially those that contain many visuals as well as those with many overlays.

5 Tips for moving items in Power BI:

  1. Moving a text box
  2. Moving many items at a time
  3. Moving the order of your visuals
  4. Copy and paste visuals
  5. Align visuals


Moving items in Power BI icon

Tip 1:  Moving a text box

Ever tried moving a textbox in Power BI, but it won’t move?  It can be very frustrating.  There is a trick to make sure it works every time.

When you choose the text box make sure your mouse pointer is showing instead of the text guide.  Note that you will only see the pointer on the very edge of the text box

So if this is your text box.

Text box example

Make sure when you left click and hold to drag that is looks like this.

Text box with mouse pointer

And not like this

Text box with text guide


Tip 2:  Moving many items at a time

This is most probably something that you might be familiar with when thinking about moving items in power BI, but for those of you that are true beginners, it might be a lightbulb moment.  In my experience, all reports have a design phase where everything changes at least a few times, whether its visuals themselves or the positioning of them.  Moving items in Power BI is something that you will do VERY often.  In certain instances you will only move 1 at a time, but every so often it is necessary or at least helpful to move some together.

This first off two options, are to click each visual, while keeping your CTRL button in.  Then move them to where you want them.

Moving many items single clicks


Second of the 2 options, is to simply keep you left mouse button in and drag over all visuals, and then moving them.  This option can also be used in Tip 1, moving a text box.

Moving many items drag


Tip 3:  Moving the order of your visuals

When you start doing visual overlays, it can get very messy to select visuals that reside underneath another.  You may ask, why would you ever lay visual on top of one another, but this is used often to create the effect you want, should it not come with the default visuals.  Even if its just a visual placed on top of a picture, or a shape that forms part of your design.  See my post on Report Design Ideas here for other more information on report design. Power BI has the option to move item forward of backward, but this can sometimes just confuse you even more.  A better option is to open the Selection pane.

Go here for to open the selection pane.


Selection Pane Location

This will add the selection pane on you report canvas.

Selection Pane on report canvas

Granted this is a small sample, but I’m hoping you get the idea, that this is the order of the 3 visuals on the canvas.  Below you can see what happens when I drag them to different positions on the selection pane.

Selection pane ordering


Tip 4:  Copying and pasting items

This next tip is a nice to know when moving items in Power BI.  So, did you know, when you copy and paste a visual from one page to another, Power BI places that visual in exactly the same spot on the new page (noting that if you paste that visual a second time on the new page, it will not).  This is helpful, especially if you have a recurring themes throughout the report.  That being said, that if you have a recurring layout, that consist of non data elements, create your design elements first and then make a few copies of that page, then add the data elements.  Another way to make sure that items are placed in exactly the same spot is to look at the General settings of the visual, this refers to the X and Y Position and Width and Height.


Tip 5:  Align visual

My last tip that relates to moving items in Power BI is about aligning them.  Power BI thankfully has this function to make it super easy for us to align visuals.  You simply select all the items you want to align and then on the Format Tab at the top, click the Align drop down, then choose the option you want.  It’s that simple.  Here is a nice video that also high lights ways to align.

Align items gif

I hope these tips help enhance your report building experience in Power BI.


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