Storytelling with Power BI 1/7: Provide easy navigation

The first out of seven blogs, as part of my blog series regarding Storytelling with Power BI. During this blog series, I will elaborate on seven topic which can be used to apply storytelling features to your own reports.

In this blog I will highlight the options you have to provide an easy navigation for your end-users interacting with the report. During the webinar, I showed the below example build by Will Thompson for the Gartner Bakeoff in 2018. You can find this report including download links to both the PBIX file as the theme file in the data stories gallery of the Power BI community page.



Providing an easy navigation is important for the usability of your report. In order to make it as intuitive as possible, you should think as an end-user. By opening a report, where do you expect the navigation to be?

If you open the first webpage you can think of, most likely you will find the navigation on top or on the left side. Which is totally reasonable (at least according to my opinion) since we read from left to right and from top to bottom.

By default in Power BI you will have the navigation on the bottom where you can switch between your report pages. But we just concluded that it is more intuitive to put your navigation on top or on the left side. So why not do the same with your Power BI reports? We can do this by creating our own navigation and bookmarks for that!


Back in March 2018, Bookmarks were introduced to Power BI. A features which brought a lot of interactivity to the way we interact with our reports. For what I’ve heard, bookmarks were meant to be like the functionality we all know in our internet browser. Simply creating a shortcut to a view or state. However, it turned out that creative people started doing way more than only creating shortcuts to views.

Bookmarks can be configured by applying different option. Bookmarks can capture the current view of a report page, including filter context and the state of visuals. So you can configure a pre-set state of view and provide easy navigation to go there. In order to create and edit bookmarks, you need to enable the bookmarks pane. You can find this in the top ribbon in the view section.

Bookmarks will include the following context:

  • The current page
  • Filters
  • Slicers, including slicer type (for example, dropdown or list) and slicer state
  • Visual selection state (such as cross-highlight filters)
  • Sort order
  • Drill location
  • Visibility (of an object, using the Selection pane)
  • The focus or Spotlight modes of any visible object
    listed from Microsoft documentation

Bookmark SettingsBy configuring your bookmark, you need to be aware of different options to make it work as expected. You can check mark options like Data, Display and Current Page which will give you the ability to change the interactions of triggering this bookmark. You can find these options by clicking the three dots and the menu will collapse. Please know that these settings only apply to one bookmark. You need to set these settings per bookmark separately.

The data property keeps the filter context of the moment when you created the bookmark. For example if I filtered my dataset on County = “Netherlands” the bookmark includes this filter context. Not always what you want, though this can be very useful. For example if you want to create a reset button which goes back to the original state of the report.

The display property includes the way visuals look. For example, if an object is hidden or shown at the canvas, as well as the spotlight functionality to highlight one visual and save this view.

Current page property is as it already suggests, an option to select if you want the bookmark only to be applicable to the page where you created it. A good example for this property can be creating a bookmark which changes the filter context for your whole report at once.

Besides these three specific properties, there is another property to choose. You can select if the bookmark is applicable to all visuals on the current page, or only to the selected visuals. With this you can easily switch the application of the bookmark.

Create your own navigation with bookmarks

When it comes to creating my own navigation, we can follow the below steps:

  1. Go to the first page and create a bookmark and give it a logical name.
  2. Switch off all the properties, except the Current page property. Simply because I only want to switch between the pages, nothing more and nothing less. 
  3. Repeat the above two steps for each page you want to have in your navigation.
  4. Create a button for each page you want to have in your navigation. You can find buttons in the top ribbon.
    Create Button
  5. Click on the button which will open the format pane of this button.
  6. Assign a bookmark to each of the buttons in the actions properties.

With these few steps, you can easily create your own navigation. In the above example we used buttons to assign the bookmark to, but you can do the same with images and shapes.

Custom app navigation

Not only bookmarks can help you to get your navigation on point. Since the Power BI service update in May 2019, it is possible to design your own custom Power BI App navigation. A really valuable feature which puts the navigation on the left side. Please try this option yourself as well. A really valuable feature when it comes to sharing multiple reports and/or dashboards in a single app.

Find all about the custom app navigation on the Power BI blog here.


5 thoughts on “Storytelling with Power BI 1/7: Provide easy navigation

  1. Pingback: Easy Navigation with Power BI – Curated SQL

  2. Pingback: Storytelling with Power BI 3/7: Have a guided experience – Data – Marc

  3. Pingback: Storytelling with Power BI 4/7: Have an interactive experience – Data – Marc

  4. Pingback: Storytelling with Power BI 5/7: Ensure consistent context – Data – Marc

  5. Pingback: Webinar recap & blog series: Storytelling & interactive reporting with Power BI – Data – Marc

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