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Optimizing Data Models for Better Visuals

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Imported data often contains fields that you don't actually need for your reporting and visualization tasks, either because it's extra information, or because that data is already available in another column. Power BI Desktop has tools to optimize your data, and make it more usable for you to create reports and visuals, and for viewing your shared reports.

Hiding fields

To hide a column in the Fields pane of Power BI Desktop, right-click on it and select Hide. Note that your hidden columns are not deleted; if you've used that field in existing visualizations, the data is still in that visual, and you can still use that data in other visualizations too, the hidden field just isn't displayed in the Fields pane.

If you view tables in the Relationships view, hidden fields are indicated by being grayed out. Again, their data is still available and is still part of the model, they're just hidden from view. You can always unhide any field that has been hidden by right-clicking the field, and selecting unhide.

Sorting visualization data by another field

The Sort by Column tool, available in the Modeling tab, is very useful to ensure that your data is displayed in the order you intended.

As a common example, data that includes the name of the month is sorted alphabetically by default, so for example, "August" appears before "February".

In this case, selecting the field in the Fields list, then selecting Sort By Column from the Modeling tab and then choosing a field to sort by can remedy the problem. In this case, the "MonthNo" category sort option orders the months as intended.

Setting the data type for a field is another way to optimize your information so it's handled correctly. To change a data type from the report canvas, select the column in the Fields pane, and then use the Format drop-down menu to select one of the formatting options. Any visuals you've created that display that field are updated automatically.

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