How to Use Templates in Power BI (+Our Favorites!)

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

Power BI templates are great time-savers

In Power BI, reports don’t have to look boring. However, you may have to spend hours and hours trying to design the most stunning report of your life.

Or… You can simply download beautiful Power BI report layouts online!

The problem is:

Where do you find those report templates? Is it possible to create your own? Or maybe create a template out of an existing Power BI report?

In this article, you’ll learn about Power BI templates — how to use one, how to turn a report into a template, plus some of our favorites!

Kasper Langmann, Co-founder of Spreadsheeto

Let’s get into it! 🎨

*This tutorial is for Power BI Online (also called "Power BI Service"). If you have Power BI Desktop, then click here and go to the online version.

Introduction to Power BI Templates

Creating reports in Power BI is a beautiful, artistic, and fun experience. Until you get obsessed over how your report looks and what more visuals you can place.

Some even had the brilliant idea of copying the report layout of the ones they like the best — which is probably how templates were first used.

Kasper Langmann, Co-founder of Spreadsheeto

Power BI templates are based on existing report templates which you can use to jump-start your reports. Templates are also a good way to standardize your reports.

A Power BI report template (or report layout, as others call it) contains:

  • Report pages and visuals
  • Schema, relationships, measures, and other data model definition
  • Queries, query parameters, and other query elements

In short, a template has all the elements of the existing template except for the report’s data.

Under the hood, a report layout is a PBIT file compared to the PBIX file of a Power BI Desktop report which contains data.

Although you can create reports in Power BI Service, you can only import/export Power BI templates in Power BI Desktop.

Template Creation

As stated earlier, you can also create your own templates out of existing templates that you made or downloaded.

As of now, there are only a few sources of Power BI report templates online. However, there are lots of Power BI reports available for download with stunning reports.

Kasper Langmann, Co-founder of Spreadsheeto

And if you know how to create report layouts, then you can download those reports and make a template out of them.

For this example, let’s use the Retail Analysis Sample’s reports, specifically the “Overview” report:

The “Store Sales Overview” report from the retail analysis sample

Let’s assume that you like the layouts in this report and you would like to have similar layouts on all your overview reports.

To make a template out of this report, click ‘File’ on the tab list:

The 'File' button on the tab list

Then, hover your mouse over ‘Export’ and select ‘Power BI template’:

The export “Power BI template” button

Power BI will then ask you to provide a description of your template.

Let’s describe this template as “Standard overview template for future sales report”:

Provide a template description for a template export

After pressing ‘OK’, name the file and save it to your preferred location.

Let’s name this template “Standard Overview Template”:

Naming the exported template as “Standard Overview Template”

As you’ve noticed, the template has a PBIT file extension.

Congratulations! You have just created your first Power BI template! 🎊

Using a Power BI Template

Now that you have created your first Power BI template, let’s discuss how to load or use one.

On a new Power BI Desktop canvas, click ‘File’ again on the tab list.

This time, hover your mouse over ‘Import’ and select ‘Power BI template’ from the options:

Find the template file and open it.

For this exercise, Power BI will ask your approval about the native query in this template.

If you approve, just click ‘Run’:

If the report, like in our example, needs to connect with a SQL server and you don’t have access to it, you would encounter errors like the one below:

Just close the window to proceed.

If you authored the reports and own the dataset, you don’t have to go through this window. Don’t worry about these errors too since our main goal was the report layouts themselves.

Kasper Langmann, Co-founder of Spreadsheeto

Since there was no data yet, here’s how the report looks:

After you specify the data sources and parameters, you’ll immediately see the visuals come to life.

Top Favorite Templates (So Far!)

As promised, we’ll be showing you 7 of our favorite templates online.

Note that not all these are in PBIT format. Some of them are in PBIX format so you would have to export them as templates.

Kasper Langmann, Co-founder of Spreadsheeto

1. Power BI September Microsoft Blog Layout

The “Power BI September Microsoft Blog” layout

It would probably be a crime not to include this awesome layout by the Microsoft team in September 2018. Thanks to Power BI Tips and Tricks, we can now have a copy of our own.

Link: Power BI September Microsoft Blog Layout

2. Airport Authority Performance Summary

This cool report shows a snapshot of all relevant data with a user-centric view which provides a detailed analysis. Though you don’t have to be an airport authority to use this, this report is a great way to monitor all related activities and make quick decisions when needed.

Link: Airport Authority Performance Summary

3. Cancer Analytics

The “Cancer Analytics” template

At first glance, you would immediately understand how serious the mortality rate is for each cancer type per state. Imagine using the same layout for how well your business is doing in different places.

Link: Cancer Analytics

4. Basic Layout

The “Basic Layout” template

Are you looking for a simple layout design? This “Basic Layout” template is designed for everyone who needs a simple good looking report with lots of visuals.

Link: Basic Layout

5. Power BI Gartner Bakeoff Opioid

The “Power BI Gartner Bakeoff Opioid” template

This colorful report about opioid crisis investigation belongs to this list not only because of its looks. Its functionality is superb as well! Visit the report and see what we mean.

Link: Power BI Gartner Bakeoff Opioid

6. Left Slicers with Logo Layout

The “Left Slicers with Logo Layout” template

This is another custom layout made by Power BI Tips and Tricks. As you can see, the report looks pretty simple but packed with stunning visuals. On the upper left side, you can include your company logo or just a report icon.

Link: Left Slicers with Logo Layout

7. Global Super Store

The “Global Super Store” template

If you’re in sales, you would like this one! This report gives its user a full view of the store sales performance. You can also see the key indicators with insights about the sales by country, category, and sub-category. All the important information is displayed so you can make quick decisions.

Link: Global Super Store

Conclusion

As you can see, you can quickly come up with reports complete with awesome-looking visuals by using a template. There are different templates available for different needs. All you have to do is search for it.

Again, if there’s a report you like and you can download the PBIX file, do it and turn it into your own template. Save time and maximize your effort by using Power BI report layouts.

Kasper Langmann, Co-founder of Spreadsheeto