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Custom Formats in Power BI

Custom Formats in power BI

Custom Formats in Power BI  allow you to create your own specific formats so that you are not limited to the pre-defined options that come as defaults

Some organisations have specific standards for things such as date formats, these can be catered for using custom formats

For example if you want your date formats to be dd-mm-yyyy  15-05-2023, then at first glance this option is not available

This quick guide shows you how you can set the formats that you need to make your reporting more flexible and look better

Custom Formats on Cards

Cards are a great way to feature key pieces of information

But if you have a need to use a custom format that is not one of the standard formats then its not obvious how to do it


Show data as Millions


select the card you want to format

A card visual in Power BI showing a value as millions of pounds

On the Visualizations panel, select ‘Format Visual’, then in ‘Call out Value’ select the relevant display units

Custom Format setting in Power BI to format values in millions


Prefix with a plus or minus

By default, if the field we want to show on the card is set as a percentage, it looks like this

Standard number format on a card in Power BI

To change the card to look as we want it, we need to go to the model and select a custom format in there

Power BI settings to apply and plus or minus prefix to a value

By setting the format to +0%; -0% the format will prefix all positives with a plus, the semi colon ; then tells it to apply a different value for negatives

It now looks as we need it to


Power BI format with a + prefix for positive values



Show values as pence

If we set the field to be a currency format, in our case GBP then the value is expected to be in £

But, earnings per share for example are reported usually in pence

(So remember to multiply by 100! in your calculation)

Then we can set a custom format to show p suffix in a similar way, in this example we have not set a negative option

By using the format code 0.0p, this sets it to 1 decimal place

Power Bi custom format settings to format with a pence suffix


Power BI card with pence suffix


Custom Format Strings

Custom format strings in Power BI allow you to unlock powerful formatting options allowing you to create the specific format you need

If you are familiar with this in Excel it is very similar

The syntax of the custom format allows you to define rules for each of positive values, negatives, zero values and text

The semi colon splits the rules into

[Positives];[Negatives];[Zero];[Text Values]

Power BI custom format string settings


Here are some common examples

Custom Format strings examples in Power BI

If you want to explore this in more detail, the Microsoft Learn site has some good content
Microsoft Learn Site


Custom Formats for Dates

Here is an example for a common date format

At first, date formats appear to be limited to a few common formats

Power BI standard date formats

But if we want to use the format ‘dd-mm-yyyy ‘which is a very common requirement

then we need to create it as a custom format

On the modelling tab, select the field, then in the properties you can apply this custom format

Settting the dd-mm-yyyy date format in Power BI

Our dates now present themselves in the required format and still behave as dates as opposed to other workarounds which create the date as text



Mastering the array of options that you can apply using custom formats can give you more control over the look and feel of your reporting in Power BI

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By Simon Harrison

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