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Q&A Visual



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Power BI allows business users to analyze data and share insights across all levels of an organization. It gives an end-to-end view of important metrics and key performance indicators through intuitive and interactive dashboards all in one place.

In this course, you will learn about several Power BI tools that would help you enhance reports to expose insights and present them in a way that appeals to a wide range of end-users.

Learning Objectives

  • Understand how to apply conditional formatting, slicers, and filters
  • Perform top N analysis
  • Explore statistical summary
  • Use the Q&A visual
  • Add a Quick Insights result to a report
  • Understand when and where to create reference lines by using the Analytics pane
  • Learn when and where to use the Play Axis feature of a visualization
  • Understand how to personalize visuals

Intended Audience

  • Beginners to data analytics
  • Business analysts
  • Business intelligence developers
  • Business intelligence managers
  • Anyone who wants to learn about Power BI


  • Microsoft Power BI Desktop for PC/Windows users (free download)
  • Familiarity with preparing data using Power BI
  • Familiarity with modeling data using Power BI
  • A basic understanding of Power Query, Power Pivot, and DAX is a plus but not required

Let's talk about the Q&A Visual. Let's say we want our customers to quickly get a list of products that are on sale, and we want our CEO to drill through supply's costs, and our procurement manager to quickly view updates on logistic delays. The Q&A will allow our end users to ask natural language questions about our dataset. A Power BI uses machine learning and data science in order to come up with an answer on the fly in the form of a visual. In this lecture, we will use the Q&A Visual for report to allow our end users to ask questions about the dataset, set up the Q&A to teach and report more terms and questions to make it work better for the end users, export a report to Power BI service and use the Q&A functions online.

So, in order to get started, let's go to Power BI desktop and connect to our sample report. So, before we get started, let's get rid of some of these visualizations to make sure that there are some space for the Q&A Visual. So, let's click on the Q&A icon and bring it in and give it some space. We can click on this Q&A button to ask questions about our data. And that's going to open up the Q&A Explorer within this dashboard. Let's make it a bit bigger.

Once it loads, we're going to see a few suggestions of questions that we can ask our dataset. Those are predetermined from Power BI. For example, what is the total units by product category. But we also have the option to ask a question that we want answered from our dataset. For example, we can say what is the total sales by branch? We see there was actually an issue there because there's a red underlying portion; it doesn't understand what branch means. We can fix this by clicking on 'Define branch'. And we're actually going to teach some new terms here.

Let's define what we mean by branch and type in store. Click 'Save', and go to Manage terms to verify the term we matched. We'll close this window. And we see we've successfully created this bar chart based on a total sales by store branch. And we even have the ability to turn this into its own visual and get rid of the Q&A options by clicking on this button. And now it's a bar chart, which we can then switch into a donut chart, for example, not the case for the specific dataset, but we do have the flexibility to do so. And if we would like to change it back to the Q&A Visual, we can go here and we can click this 'Teach Q&A' icon to open up the Q&A set up. This will take us back to the splash page on how to get started. And there's even a demonstrating video to watch it in case.

Let's close this window. And now let's go ahead and publish our report to Power BI service, and it's basically the cloud based online version of Power BI where users view and interact with reports and dashboards. We'll go and click on 'Publish', and Power BI is going to ask for the designation. I've created the workspace called cloud academy here. And now that we have successfully published our report, let's open the Power BI service and go to our report, under the report section, to pin the visuals we want in our dashboard.

Let's select the sales by chain pie chart. Click on the 'Pin' icon, and we're going to pin to the existing cloud academy dashboard. Press 'Pin', and now we're notified that the pie chart is pinned to the dashboard. Let's also pin the sales by fiscal month and area chart. I would like to point out that Power BI service does not pin the Q&A Visual unless we turn it into the standard visual it's displaying. And similar to Power BI Desktop, if we click on this icon, it becomes a bar chart visual that we're able to pin. Click 'Pin' and now we're good to go to our dashboard that we just customized. Let's save it just in case.

Now we have this customized dashboard in the cloud. Let's hover to the "Ask questions about your data" search bar. Similar to the Q&A Visual and Power BI Desktop, we have these pre-made questions based on our report's dataset, but let's ask for example, what is the total sales by district manager? And I would like to point out that this bar chart was created to us, even though the word manager is underlined in red. And that's because Power BI has recognized that manager is a synonym to the DM. And DM is the acronym we use to name the district manager table in this module. And if you replace manager with DM, we still get the same bar chart but without the red underlying term.

So, we see that Andrew Ma has the highest total sales of around eight million. That's perfect. But we already have a bar chart on our dashboard, so let's go ahead and specify by pie chart. So, show us a pie chart and Power BI was able to do that and we can also have the option to specify by table, by matrix, by funnel charts or any other visual. Let's go with the funnel chart. So, we'll click half of that and see this nice funnel that Power BI has created for us on the fly. And if you wanted to keep these visualizations to use later, we can click on the 'Pin Visual' option, pin it to our existing dashboard and we'll see our new funnel chart that was just created. So, this is really easy in case we don't want to have to go back into the Power BI report, create that visualization, then publish it up, then pin it to the dashboard. We can do it directly from the Q&A option within Power BI service.

In this lecture, we covered the Q&A functions in both Power BI Desktop and Power BI Service. Great tool to allow our end users to ask questions about our dataset and come up with an answer on the fly in the form of a visual.

About the Author

Moatasim has been a data and insight consultant since 2014, driving data culture strategies in enterprises, non-profit organizations and tech startups to improve their decision making. He has teamed up with Fortune 1000 companies, MBB and Big Four consultants on complex engagements in government and private sectors. He has been a data analyst, business analyst, BI manager, and instructor. To date, Moatasim has created learning content relating to business intelligence, data analysis and machine learning, mostly within Power BI, Azure, SQL and Python. His hobbies included heavy metal drumming and meditation.