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What are Power BI Template Files?

What are Power BI Template Files

What are Power BI Template Files

Power BI report templates are a type of file that is designed to be the starting point for report creation, they are also known as .PBIT files due to their file extension or simply pbit files

Power BI report templates contain all the components of a report, from data connections, queries, measures, tables, charts, and visuals, but without the data itself. This means that the template files are typically much much smaller than their PBIX equivalents

The Benefits of using Power BI report templates

Templates can save time and effort by providing a predefined structure and layout that can be customised as required

A useful benefit of report templates is to help ensure consistency across reports by providing a standard format for data connections, queries, measures, tables, charts, and visuals, this can help to enforce standardisation across your portfolio with common colour schemes, styles, consistent look and feel

Sharing best practices across your organisation is also made easier using power bi template files, their small footprint makes it easy to build a library of examples which your teams can use as a starting point for their report creation

How to create a Power BI report template

To create a Power BI report template, you can start by creating a new report in Power BI Desktop and adding all the elements you want to include in your template, essentially this can be any normal Power BI report file (PBIX)

Once you have selected an appropriate file that you want to be a reference for good practice,  you can then export this file as a template

Select File > Export > Power BI template from within Power BI Desktop.

You will see a dialogue box, which is useful to describe the contents and what makes it a good template

Export a template dialogue box in Power BI

Click OK then give your template a name, and save it to the folder of your choice

In our example, there is a dramatic difference in the size of the files. The original report is 21MB compared to just 61KB for the template

Power BI template file size compared to a PBIX file

Opening a Power BI Template File

Double click any PBIT file to open it or select File > Import > Power BI template from within Power BI Desktop.

As the file opens the data is refreshed if you have the appropriate permissions, and the reports is built up from the meta data contained in the template

All of the content is reproduced exactly as it was in the original PBIX file


This can be a great way to share dashboards among developers if they contain millions of rows of data

The tiny PBIT files can easily be emailed, and if the recipient has permission to refresh the source data they can see exactly what the original PBIX file contained

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Business Analytics Blog

By Simon Harrison

Simon Harrison Founder of Select Distinct Limited and a business intelligence expert