How to Use Themes in Power BI (+10 Favorite Themes)

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

Using a Power BI report theme is a quick way to change how your entire report looks — from icon sets to colors. 

You don’t have to drill down on each report and change their format individually.

But how do you switch themes on Power BI? Where can you get themes aside from the ones that come with Power BI desktop?

In this article, you’ll learn how to use themes in Power BI. We’ll also point you to a place where you can get them along with 10 of our favorites.

Kasper Langmann, Co-founder of Spreadsheeto

Let’s get it started! 🎨

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

Introduction to Power BI Report Themes

Report themes are themes in Power BI that apply changes to a Power BI report’s colors, icon sets, background color, and others.

For example, here’s a Power BI sample report with the default theme:

After switching to a theme called “Innovate”, here’s how it looks:

The “Innovate” theme in Power BI

The changes you see are all done in 2 clicks which takes less than 2 seconds! 😲

However, you can only apply themes using the desktop version. It’s one of the key differences between the Power BI Service and Power BI Desktop.

Under the hood, the basic structure of a theme is placed in a JSON (JavaScript Object Notation) file. But don’t worry, there’s no reason for us to go that deep. 😊

Kasper Langmann, Co-founder of Spreadsheeto

How to Switch or Use Power BI Themes

To switch themes, make sure you’re on the report view of your Power BI Desktop.

On the ribbon, click the ‘Switch Theme’ button.

You can find the ‘Themes’ group between the ‘Custom visuals’ and ‘Relationships’ groups.

The “Switch Theme” button on Power BI ribbon

Then, select your theme from the dropdown.

If you like to view more themes, just click the ‘More themes’ option.

Now, let’s try and switch the theme to ‘Innovate’:

The results are immediate:

How to switch themes in Power BI

Simple, right? 👍

Kasper Langmann, Co-founder of Spreadsheeto

How to Import a Power BI Theme

Now that you’ve downloaded a Power BI theme from the gallery, it’s time to import it to Power BI Desktop.

To import a theme, click the ‘Switch Theme’ button again and select ‘Import theme’:

Open the JSON file you downloaded from the gallery.

Once you loaded the JSON file, the theme will now be replaced by the theme you downloaded:

How the downloaded theme looks like

Don’t panic if the theme didn’t look as you imagined. You can modify it according to your taste. 😊

Kasper Langmann, Co-founder of Spreadsheeto

Modifying a Power BI Imported Theme

Depending on the theme and the visualizations on your report, it might not always go according to how you envision it.

Sometimes, you need to modify it to fit your taste.

All that can be done by selecting a visualization and editing its format.

For example:

In our recent imported theme, you can’t view some of the visuals because the background color is filling it up. One of them is the “Total Stores” count visual:

There’s a chance that this was caused by the background color.

To disable its background color, click the visual and go to the ‘Visualizations’ pane on the right corner:

Then, open the ‘Format’ tab and turn the background off:

Doing the same thing to most of the visuals of the report would result in:

How the report looks like when you turn the background off on some of the visuals

Of course, that’s just one example. You can basically change the format of any visual like data colors, background, border, etc.

Kasper Langmann, Co-founder of Spreadsheeto

Top 10 Favorite Power BI Themes

Now that you know how to modify themes, it’s time to show you our top 10 favorite Power BI themes from the Microsoft Power BI Community Themes Gallery.

Note: There are hundreds of themes in the gallery. The themes listed here are our personal picks and do not reflect what the community thinks are the ‘best’ themes.

1. Vintage Theme

This theme, designed by Aexley, is inspired by red wine vintage colors. It has a healthy mix of light and dark colors layered with a light-vintage filter. Don’t you find the colors soothing to the eyes?

Link: Vintage Theme

2. Gartner Bakeoff Opioid Crisis Theme

This report has one of the cleanest looks out there. Lots of users shared their appreciation for the designer because of its looks and features. The slicers the designer put made the app easy to navigate. At a glance, it really looks like a nice web app that’s simple to use.

Link: Gartner Bakeoff Opioid Crisis Theme

3. Acterys Planning

The “Acterys Planning” theme from the themes gallery

Looks familiar? That’s because this was the theme we used earlier in our example. This theme works really good with dark backgrounds of blue and green shades. If there are a few problems with how this theme affects some of your visuals, feel free to modify it.

Link: Acterys Planning

4. The Honey Bee

The “Honey Bee” theme from the themes gallery

With a yellow and gray combination, this theme definitely has one of the best natural high-contrast combos. Users like this theme because of how cool the visuals look and easy to read.

Link: The Honey Bee

5. All Blacks

The “All Blacks” theme from the themes gallery

Do you like black? If so, you would surely find this theme attractive. Unlike some of the black-themed reports, this won’t give you a headache. The clean looks make the colors pop. According to its designer, the theme was made for fans of the All Black rugby team.

Link: All Blacks

6. Pastel Color Theme

The “Pastel Color” theme from the themes gallery

Tried to find a theme with pastel colors? Here’s the theme you’re looking for! The color in this theme are easy to the eyes. The designer made sure that the font colors would fit with the visual so you’ll still be able to see those data labels.

Link: Pastel Color Theme

7. Dinosaur!

This theme is for dinosaur fans! There are only a few themes in the themes gallery that looks this fun. With fossil colors like brown, orange, yellow, and gray, you’ll get that dinosaur-feel on your reports.

Link: Dinosaur!

8. Spring Day

The “Spring Day” theme from the themes gallery

Currently, this theme has the most kudos (like) and views on the themes gallery. It’s not too hard to know why. The theme brings with it the soft colors of spring. Like the Pastel Color Theme, this theme is easy to the eyes.

Link: Spring Day

9. Tumble Road Multicolor Theme

The “Tumble Road Multicolor” theme from the themes gallery

This theme is based on internal color palettes that the designer developed. At first glance, it feels like the red colors are taking over. But on closer inspection, it just seems reddish due to a lot of red-related colors being used.

Link: Tumble Road Multicolor Theme

10. Nowalls Analytics

The “Nowalls Analytics” theme from the themes gallery

There’s a good reason why this theme belongs to the top 5. The mixture of neon and black makes this theme unique from the rest. Though used by the designer as a plug for their company, this theme has been viewed and downloaded by many Power BI users.

Link: Nowalls Analytics

Wrapping things up…

Report themes allow you to quickly change your report’s look according to how you like it. And if you don’t like the themes that came with Power BI Desktop, you can always go to Power BI’s theme gallery and download what you like.

You can change how the theme looks on the Power BI Desktop itself. It’s a given that some of the visualization format the designer set won’t go with what you have in mind. 👍

Kasper Langmann, Co-founder of Spreadsheeto