Not your typical Q&A

When you are working on a Power BI report or dataset sometimes the fastest way to get answers from your data is to ask questions. In Power BI, you can pose questions to your data using the Q&A feature.

Power BI’s Q&A feature allows you to pose specific questions to your data which in turn lets you explore your data using intuitive, natural language capabilities, and receive answers in the form of charts and graphs.

Know your questions

You can use the Q&A feature in two different ways: from a dashboard or in a report. A visual created by Q&A can be pinned to a dashboard or a report depending on where it has been created

From a dashboard you can use the Q&A feature located at the top left of the dashboard to pose a question to your data. This will work on the datasets linked to the dashboard visuals.

The Q&A box in a Power BI dashboard

In a report, there could be a Q&A visual that behaves the same way as the dashboard control but for a specific report dataset.

The Q&A box from within a Power BI report

A visual created by Q&A can be pinned to a dashboard or a report depending on where it has been created.

Simple Q&A

When activating the Q&A feature, set the type-cursor on the Q&A line and start typing your question. Automated questions will be suggested under the line.

By pressing enter or selecting a suggested question, the Q&A will generate a visual answer such as a bar chart as shown in the animation above.

You can manipulate the visual by changing Top with Bottom and the chart order will be changed by ascending years instead of descending years as shown in the following animation.

GIF: how to manipulate a Power BI visual using the Q&A feature

One or more filters

You can filter a Q&A for a specific value when stating your question. The best way to specify a filter is to use the word “where,” then the name of the attribute you want to filter on and the value.

For example, if you want to filter the total defect reported in the year 2014, you could ask, “total defect reports where year is 2014.” Check it out in the following animation.

GIF: filtering capabilities of the Power BI Q&A feature

And if you want to add another filter, type “and,” then specify the name of the other attribute and the value you want to filter on.

Check out the animation below as an example.

GIF: using 'and' when filtering with Power BI's Q&A feature

Specifying visuals

Q&A picks the best visuals based on the kind of data provided. For instance, if data is defined as a date type it is likely to be displayed as a line chart, while data that is categorized as a city will likely be displayed as a map.

You can also tell the Q&A which visual to use by adding it to your question. But be aware that it may not always be possible for Q&A to display the data in the visual type you requested.

Changing answers to visuals with Q&A

In the Power BI online environment's Edit Report mode, you can easily add a visual to the report using the Add a question button in the menu bar.

GIF: Add Power BI's Q&A visual results to report

The visual created can then be turned into a “standard” visualization using the "Turn this Q&A Result into a standard visual" button.

GIF: Turn Power BI's Q&A visual results to standard visualization

After turning the generated visual into a standard visualization, it can be adjusted for your needs:

  • Changed into another visual using the Visualization pane.
  • Add as a tooltip
  • Change the formatting

Start your Q&A

Remember, the best way to visualize your Power BI datasets is to understand it. So don't hesitate to direct questions and get an answer from your data using natural language with the Q&A feature.

With 70 different beginner-level Challenges available, you can continue learning about Power BI's Q&A feature, datasets, visualizations, and more. Sign-up at 5miles  today to start your free two-week trial.