How to Create Your First Power BI Dashboard (Step-by-Step)

Written by co-founder Kasper Langmann, Microsoft Office Specialist.

A Power BI dashboard helps you monitor all your important indicators at a glance

That means you don’t have to go clicking in different places just to understand your data!

But how do you create your own Power BI dashboard? Is it hard?

In this article, we’ll introduce you to Power BI dashboards and show you how to create one with your own data.

Kasper Langmann, Co-founder of Spreadsheeto

It’s super easy! Let’s start! 👨‍🔬

*This tutorial is for Power BI Online (also called "Power BI Service").

Introduction to Power BI Dashboards

First off, what exactly is a Power BI dashboard?

A Power BI dashboard is like a page where you can pin visualizations — which will be called tiles — to highlight your data from your reports.

Power BI is all about telling a story about your data and a dashboard is a way to do it effectively.

The visualizations you can pin on a dashboard came from reports based on a dataset. Selecting a visualization on a dashboard will take you to report where the data are taken.

Here’s a helpful graph from Microsoft Documentation that explains the relationship between dashboards, reports, and datasets:

A diagram that illustrates the relationship between dashboards, reports, and datasets in Power BI

You can only create a dashboard from Power BI Service (the online version). You can’t make or see a dashboard on Power BI Desktop. On mobile, you can only view and share dashboards.

Kasper Langmann, Co-founder of Spreadsheeto

Creating Your First Power BI Dashboard

Since the visualizations pinned on a dashboard came from reports, it’s assumed that you already have your data exported to Power BI and made your own reports before creating a dashboard.

For this exercise, we’ll be using one of Power BI’s samples: Retail Analysis Sample.

Lists of Power BI samples

After you bring in your data on Power BI, you will be brought to your workspace where you can browse between your dashboards, reports, workbooks, and datasets.

Click ‘Reports’ and click ‘Retail Analysis Sample’:

Loading a report in Power BI from the workspace

The Retail Analysis Sample that we are using has 3 available reports.

Out of all the reports, let’s assume that you’re putting more importance on the ‘District Monthly Sales’.

Specifically, you want to add the visual about ‘This Year Sales by StoreNumberName’ to your own dashboard.

A report to export in District Monthly Sales report in Power BI

To pin this visual, hover your mouse over it until icons appear on the upper-right corner.

Then, click the pin icon 📌.

A pin icon found on a visual on a report

After clicking on it, Power BI will prompt you about pinning the visual to a dashboard:

  • Select whether pin to an existing dashboard or to a new one.
  • If existing dashboard, select which one. If a new one, provide a new name.

Since we’ll be creating a new dashboard, select a new dashboard. Let’s name this dashboard “Retail Manager” and then click ‘Pin’.

Power BI prompt about pinning to dashboard

A notification will then pop up on the upper-right side of your workspace.

To view your newly created dashboard, simply click the ‘Go to dashboard’ box:

Congratulations! You just created your first Power BI dashboard!

Kasper Langmann, Co-founder of Spreadsheeto
A dashboard with only one visual

Easy, right? 😊

Pinning a Whole Report Page

Now that you have a basic idea of how to create a dashboard and pin a tile, let’s kick it up a notch.

What if you would like to pin all the visuals on that report page?

Fortunately, there’s no need to pin the visuals one by one. You can just pin the whole report page all at once.

Let’s go back to our ‘District Monthly Sales’ report.

To pin this entire report page, click the ellipsis icon (…) on the menubar and select ‘Pin a live Page’:

Let’s create a new dashboard called “District Manager” and pin the whole report page:

Power BI prompt about pinning to a new dashboard

Like in the previous example, you’ll receive a notification about a new dashboard. If you like to view the dashboard now, click the ‘Go to dashboard’ option.

Kasper Langmann, Co-founder of Spreadsheeto

Now, you’ll be able to view right away the visuals of that report page from the newly created dashboard:

A new dashboard pinned with a live page

Since this is a live page, any changes made on the data that concerns any of the visuals in the live page will be updated after refreshing the dashboard.

To refresh a dashboard, click the ellipsis icon (…) on the menubar and select refresh 🔃:

Nice! Get comfortable in creating dashboards. You’ll need it! 👍

Wrapping things up…

A Power BI dashboard won’t just tell your story, it will save you a great deal of time too! By learning how to create a dashboard and pin tiles on it, you’ll be able to gather all the visuals that you care about and put them in 1 place.

However, the effectiveness of your dashboard still depends on you and how much you know about your role and data. Pinning the wrong visual — like an unimportant one — will make no difference.

Kasper Langmann, Co-founder of Spreadsheeto