Conditional Formatting with a Text Field in Power BI - Excelerator BI

Conditional Formatting with a Text Field in Power BI

One of the things I like about my live, online training courses is that I get to hear great questions from the trenches from people learning DAX and Power BI.  Last week, John asked me how to apply conditional formatting with a Text field (not a numeric field).  I knew it could be done, but it required some brief research before I could give an answer. It is pretty easy to apply conditional formatting on a numeric field – this feature was added to Power BI some time back. However, Microsoft has also added the ability to apply conditional formatting to a Text field too in some circumstances.


To understand the process of configuring this, consider the following simple data table:

Example Data Table without Conditional Formatting

I just entered some simple sample data using the “Enter Data” menu option. As you can see Project 2, Project 3 and Project 5 have departments associated with them while Project 1 and Project 4 do not.

Suppose you want to use conditional formatting to highlight (colour code) which of the Projects have Departments associated with them and which do not.

The Method

The high level process is to:

  1. Create a measure that returns a colour as the result
    1. It can be a word, such as blue, red, green
    2. It can be a hex code for a colour, like #40E0D0″, “#FFA07A”
  2. Use conditional formatting and use the measure to apply the formatting on the text as a rule.

Here is the step-by-step process explained.

To start with, I created a test measure as follows.

Test =
     VAR Dept = SELECTEDVALUE(Projects[Department]) 
     RETURN IF(Dept <> BLANK(), Dept, "No Dept")

Next, I placed a table visual in the report and added the columns project, department and the test measure.

Example Table with new column and without Conditional Formatting

As you can see, the measure identifies which of the projects have a department and which do not.  So this test measure has the logic required to go to the next step.

Next, I created a new measure [Colour Project], taking the logic from the test measure that I created above and modifying it to output names of colours.  This can be simply achieved by returning hex codes or common names of colours.

Colour Project =
    VAR Dept = SELECTEDVALUE(Projects[Department])
    RETURN IF(Dept <> BLANK(), "#40E0D0", "#FFA07A")
For this I picked up Hex Codes for colours from the site

The next step is to turn on the conditional formatting for the project column so that it is coloured based on the measure [Colour Project] above.

To apply the conditional formatting, I clicked on the down arrow (#1 below) next to project and then on conditional formatting (#2 below) and then on background color (#3 below).

applying conditional formatting to a data table

In the background color dialog that appears, select format by field value (#1 below) and based on field color project (#2 below). Click on OK.

Background Color Dialogue

The text field “project” is now conditionally formatted by the logic given by the measure [Colour Project] using the chosen Hex Codes.

Data Table Conditionally Formatted with a text field

It is also possible to apply conditional formatting using words, such as “Green” and “Red”.

To illustrate this, I created the measure [Colour Test] based on the logic previously used as follows.

Colour Test =
    VAR Dept = SELECTEDVALUE(Projects[Department])
    RETURN IF(Dept <> BLANK(), "Green", "Red")

Banner A

Next, I applied the conditional formatting on the original measure [Test] using font color. I used format by color test. And the result is as follows.

Colour Test with COnditional Formatting

Final Thoughts on Conditional Formatting with a Text Field

It is worth noting that I am using the table visual for this article.  All columns and measures are placed in the Values section of the visual. Conditional formatting works only when a column or measure is in the Values section of a visual. If we use a matrix instead and place project on rows, you cannot apply conditional formatting to that field.

69 thoughts on “Conditional Formatting with a Text Field in Power BI”

  1. Hi Matt. I have numerous columns with text values and would like to apply colors based on the text value on each cell? Each column headers are Period (Jan, Feb etc.) and it measures each row based on performance (OK, Fail, Pending…etc). How do I apply your sample to each columns? Do I have to create new columns and apply each column to each of the Period? Or, is there a way to create just one new column with a dax calc to associate the color for each text value? And then use conditional formatting on each Source column to refer to the new column with dax calc?

    1. Conditional formatting works across columns for a single measure, or simply across a single column. It’s not clear to me how you are visualising this data, so it’s hard to say. If your row is a measure, you should be able to conditionally format it for all columns.

      You could also look at the Inforiver custom visual. This has a lot of powerful conditional formatting features. There is a fee for this product

    1. There is a rules based option. You would have to test it on text. I assume it works, but you wouldn’t be able to format text based on some other numeric field, only the text field itself.

  2. Anna Tomlinson

    Hi Matt,

    I attempted this with the background color, and it worked(!), but only for a single row of the column sets applied to. Is there a way to have it apply to each of the fields that meet the criteria?

  3. Hi Matt,

    Thank you for your post! This is definitely helpful! Just wondering instead of change the color of text, is there anyway that we can change font (bold, italic, underline etc.)?

    Thanks in advance!

  4. Hi Matt, I tried to change font colours in columns it’s working. But if it is in red colour I need that font in bold or another is it posiible.

  5. Millicent Rutendo Chiwanga

    Hi, I want to highlight a row named cases, I am trying to follow these steps but its not giving me expected results.

  6. Hi I want to set “Property Status :” text in red color and the remaining string in black color

    My output would be something like
    PropertyStatus : Active

    I am trying to concatenate two strings where in “Property Status :” is a default value in PS variable
    DispPScard =
    VAR PS = “Property Status :”
    “ALL”, “NA”,MIN( FM_PRPTY_LIST_RE[Property Status])
    ) )

  7. I have been racking my limited knowledge on how I can create a single DAX statement in a measure that will address a series of columns with similar values.
    I have say 5 columns (C01D01, C01D02, C01D03, C01D04 & C01D05) … each could display at text field in any given row and I want to conditionally set background colour for a specfic word. What I have so far is:
    RETURN IF(Colour01 = BLANK(), “”,IF(Colour01 = “DEPOSITION”, “#FF0000”, “#008000”))
    But I can seem to see how to include the other columns in this statement … is it possible??

    1. I’m almost positive you are approaching this the wrong way. I don’t know your data or what you are trying to do, but I suggest you at least consider unpivoting all those columns into an attribute and value column using Power Query. If you do that, you don’t have any other columns to include, just the one column.

      I hope that makes sense.

  8. Kristin Liefeldt

    Just tried but I can’t choose a measure in Based on field, PBI lets me only choose table columns.

    1. Any measure that meets the requirements for will be available to select. If it is not available, there must be something wrong with the measure. From memory, it has to be text

  9. Hi Matt, I followed same solution in my project but unfortunately it is not giving me the expected result. I have a Card visual in which I am trying to apply this. Can you please help us with a solution get the same thing on Card Visual.

    1. I can’t help with this level of information. What does “not giving me the expected result” mean? You can format the text or the background with a card, but a card does not have a filter context coming from rows like a table. You need to check what SELECTEDVALUE() returns in the context of your card – you will probably find the answer there.

  10. Mohammed Shoeb Hakeem

    Great idea. Big thanks..

    But I was thinking that it would highlight with colors only when selected. But in the example above it highlights with colors regardless of any selection.

    Can you please clarify?

  11. How can I apply conditional formatting when I do have a Dimension table with Status and it’s color column and I have to apply conditional formatting by mapping the status column to get the corresponding color. Basically get the color values dynamically instead of providing it in the measure.

      1. Yes, That already worked for me but the issue arises when I use 2 of such columns for generating a third overall status measure.

        M1 =
        var a = SELECTEDVALUE(T1[Status1])
        return LOOKUPVALUE( Mapping[Color], Mapping[RawStatus], a )

        M2 =
        var b = SELECTEDVALUE(T1[Status2])
        return LOOKUPVALUE( Mapping[Color], Mapping[RawStatus], a )

        M3 = if (OR([M1] = “Red”, [M2] = “Red”),”Red”,”Green”)

        The M1, M2 is working fine. Everything is okay until I pull M3 into my table visual. When M3 is pulled over, the already applied filters will be inactive on my table visual and I am getting more rows in the visual which are not expected.

        The Mapping table looks like this:

        Category RawStatus Color
        ———- ———— —–
        S1 xxx Red
        S1 yyy Green
        S2 aaa Red
        S2 bbb Green

        1. This is too hard to debug conceptually. You need to chip away at it one step at a time until you work out what is wrong. Maybe expand M3 to include the underlying code for M1 and M2. Put them all in a visual and modify M3 one step at a time to try to nut it out

  12. Your site is great, I started using Power BI at the end of August to address some bad reporting inputs I was getting, now everyday I spend time develping a better way to view the data, or sub-set of the data.
    I am looking to hilight rows in a table when the EVidence Status is “verified” using the method shared, but i dont know how to pboelm solve based on the error message provied, it really doesn’t help me.
    Colour Evidence Status =
    VAR Evidence.Status = SELECTEDVALUE(‘Import-Collection & Testing (1150)'[Evidence Status])
    RETURN IF(Evidence.Status = “Verified”, “#7E929F”, “#E1E8F6”)
    is returning
    The syntax for ‘.’ is incorrect. (DAX( VAR Evidence.Status = SELECTEDVALUE(‘Import-Collection & Testing (1150)'[Evidence Status]) RETURN IF(Evidence.Status = “Verified”, “#7E929F”, “#E1E8F6”))).
    Lost in the winderness. THANKS

  13. Do we have option to put 5 color base on status, in similar manner as example mention 2 color


    Thanks in advance..

  14. Test =
    VAR Dept = SELECTEDVALUE(Table2[Project](Table2[Department])
    RETURN IF(Dept BLANK(), Dept, “No Dept”)

    It is showing an error to me while writing the above measure. Can you please help?

  15. Test =
    VAR Dept = SELECTEDVALUE(Table2[Project](Table2[Department])
    RETURN IF(Dept BLANK(), Dept, “No Dept”)

  16. I have start date and end date.
    Have taken 1 date filter which shows list of months.
    And based on selected month I added measure for calculating date difference in days.
    Now I want to calculate sum of that measure which shows days. So how can I do that ?
    Can you please out with that ?

  17. Hi Matt, I have one column in which I am showing the comparison between the other two column as in if that two columns have same value then new column will show ‘yes’ otherwise ‘no’
    I have to apply conditional formatting on this column if its value is yes then background should be red if no then white
    How can I do it ?

    Thanks ,

    1. First write a measure that defines the colour as follows:
      Column3 Colour = VAR SelectedValue = SELECTEDVALUE(‘Table (2)'[Column3])
      VAR Colour = SWITCH(SelectedValue,
      “Yes”, “Red”,
      “No”, “White”
      RETURN Colour
      Next apply conditional formatting on Column3 based on Field Value and choose the field as measure defined above.

  18. Hi Matt, This is excellent, But I am trying to apply color in same column on 2 values. Can you please share your expert advise how this can be possible?

    Val 1
    Val 2

    I want Val 1 in color red if occur in column and Val 2 in color green if occur in column.


    1. Define a measure as follows:
      Column Colour = VAR SelectedValue = SELECTEDVALUE(‘Table'[Column])
      VAR Colour = SWITCH(SelectedValue,
      “Val1”, “Red”,
      “Val2”, “Green”
      RETURN Colour

      Next, put Column in a Table visual.
      Apply conditional formatting for Column by Field value and then choose Column Colour

    1. Yes, both the background and the font can be set to the same colour using the same measure. I do this all the time to generate “heat maps” where you just see the colour, not the numbers

  19. Hi Everyone, Is there any way to apply conditional formatting on all columns of table at once, rather than applying on every single column separately?

  20. hello, first thanks for your great tutorial. I’ve got an issue expecting a solution. In a matrix visual, how to conditionally format a subcategory in row? Like change its background Color. It seems that BI only support column and value’s conditional formatting… Hope you can help me.

  21. virginia rodriguez

    I would like to know how I should proceed with Power BI when granting access permissions to different users of my company so they can see a report that I make. thank you

  22. virginia rodriguez

    I would like to ask if POWER BI allows you to make a Conditional Format, in which the conditioners are a value> or = instead of a value, something type
    =Switch(E2>=0,8;”text1″; “text2”)

    1. Yes, it is possible to conditionally format with the value >, < or = instead of the value. For e.g. suppose we have another column in the table showing budget for each project. You can conditionally format Project by checking the Budget as follows.

        Color Project by Budget =
        VAR ProjBudget = SELECTEDVALUE(Projects[Budget])
        Return IF(ProjBudget < 1500, "yellow", "pink")
    1. There is currently no way to reference a line in a visual for conditional formatting purposes. This may change – MS is working on expression based formatting across the product. You can already colour the background of a card using an expression (for example). The only option you have is to format each column in the row using the technique I have demonstrated above

    1. Actually, yes. You also can use that in matrix. You can use that in “Conditional formatting”.
      Very useful tips.

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