A waterfall chart shows a running total as values are added or subtracted. It's useful for understanding how an initial value (for example, net income) is affected by a series of positive and negative changes.

The columns are color coded so you can quickly tell 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 "look", waterfall charts are also called bridge charts.

When to use a waterfall chart

Waterfall charts are a great choice:

  • when you have changes for the measure across time 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. 

Create a waterfall chart

To follow along, sign in to Power BI and select Get Data > Samples > Retail Analysis Sample

  1. From the "Retail Analysis Sample" dashboard, select the Total Stores tile to open the "Retail Analysis Sample" report.

  2. Select Edit Report to open the report in Editing View.

  3. Add a new report page.

  4. Create a waterfall chart that displays this year's sales and sales goal by month.

    • From the Fields pane, select Sales > Total Sales Variance.
    • Convert the chart to a Waterfall

    • If Total Sales Variance isn't in the Y Axis area, drag it there.

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

Highlighting and cross-filtering

For information about using the Filters pane, see Add a filter to a report.

Highlighting a column in a waterfall chart cross-filters the other visualizations on the report page... and vice versa. However, the Total column does not trigger highlighting or respond to cross-filtering.

See also

Reports in Power BI

Visualization types in Power BI

Visualizations in Power BI reports

Power BI - Basic Concepts

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