Power BI - Waterfall Chart

What’s that all about?

This article provides you with a complete understanding of what is a waterfall chart? When to use it? And its benefits.

Waterfall Chart

Waterfall charts are a great way to visualize data. They are one of the most powerful standard visuals in Power BI, given its ability to compute and format the variances of individual items between two periods by default.

A waterfall chart tells you a story from your data by showing how each positive or negative effect influenced the outcome.

Column chart Vs Waterfall chart

Here we shall go with an example for a better understanding

If we want to analyze two years of bike sales of TVS company using the column chart, it only shows the comparison between two years of total sales.

But using the waterfall chart, we can see which bike product sales have increased/decreased. We can also see the variance between the two years of total sales.

So, users can take better decisions based on this breakdown analysis using a waterfall chart.

Creating a Waterfall chart in Power BI

1) Login to Power BI>Get data>Select the excel (ex: Sample Superstore file). You can download the           sample data source from the link below.

2) Click on the waterfall chart in the Visualization pane

3) By selecting the waterfall skeleton visual in the canvas, update the below field in the visual
     Category ⇨ Order date
     Breakdown ⇨ Category
     Y-axis ⇨ Sales

How does the Waterfall Chart work?

To visualize the waterfall chart, we have used superstore data.

In the chart, we can see the total sales for each year in the blue bar.

Between every two years of the total sales, we can view the sales differences between the years, according to the category which says either increase in sales (Green color bar) or decrease in sales (Red color bar)

Now you might have the question as to how the difference is calculated.

For Example, let’s take 2016 Furniture sales vs 2017 Furniture sales and analyze the waterfall chart to find out how we arrived at the differences.

Let’s see how the difference arrived in the chart

Sales Change = 2017 Furniture sales - 2016 Furniture sales 
(Sales Change = 170,518.24 - 157,195.85)
Sales Change = 13,322.39

Please check the below-mentioned screenshot to view the Sales change in the tooltip 😊

Again, we have missed out on finding some calculations :)

We can check how we got the Sales change percentage (8.48%) as per the above screenshot.

To calculate the sales change percentage, we need to use the below formula

As per the example:

Breakdown Analysis

In the table below, we can see the difference between the 2016 and 2017 sales according to the category.

Actually, the business had a loss of 27k (12k + 15k) from the categories Technology and Office, but the profit of 13k from furniture reduced the loss of 27k.

So, the sales difference between 2016 and 2017 is over -13k.

Based on this analysis, the company/business can decide on which category they need to concentrate more to improve sales.

According to the above-mentioned waterfall chart, businesses need to concentrate more on Technology and office supplies as huge losses occurred in these categories.


Waterfall charts are a powerful tool to use if you want to track changes over a measure across time dimension. We can quickly analyze the data and see where we need to work for improvement.

Miss.Amala Mary P
Data Analyst

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