The Complete Guide to Power BI Themes

The absence of themes in Power BI compels its users to manually format every element of their reports, resulting not only in a waste of precious time but also in the possibility of an inconsistent design.
To address this issue, this guide offers an in-depth explanation on how to utilize themes and establish personalized themes within Power BI.
By following the step-by-step process, you can cut down the build and design time while preserving the uniformity of your reports.
We will also provide guidance on incorporating color effectively throughout your report and furnish a collection of sample themes, some of which are downloadable to expedite your progress. Furthermore, we will ensure that the themes we create adhere to the design best practices, so you can apply them with confidence.

Power BI Themes

Power BI themes are pre-designed sets of formatting options and colors that can be applied to your entire report, including shapes, text, and visuals, with just a few clicks. Their primary objective is to help you maintain a uniform design across your report, without the need to modify each element individually.

Why Should I use a Power BI Theme?

Utilizing Power BI themes can greatly enhance the efficiency and cohesiveness of your report design by enabling you to implement design alterations throughout your entire report swiftly.

Applying a theme to your report yields the benefit of automatic reflection of the formatting and colors from your chosen theme, resulting in a consistent visual appeal throughout all visuals.

In addition to the benefit of visual consistency, implementing a theme can also save you considerable time that would otherwise be spent manually modifying each element of your report for formatting.

How to use Power BI Themes

To utilize Power BI themes, first, navigate to the View ribbon, and locate the themes section. From there, select the drop-down arrow and choose the desired theme.

For instance, in the following example, we have selected and imported one of our custom themes after browsing through the options.

It is also possible to create a personalized theme in Power BI and save it by selecting the “Save Current Theme” option from the drop-down menu, as illustrated below.

Once saved, the custom theme will be stored as a JSON file, which can be imported similarly to the one in the example.

Types of Power BI report themes:

The first type is built-in themes, which are pre-installed within Power BI. These themes offer a range of pre-defined color schemes and can be easily accessed from the Power BI Desktop menu.

The second type is custom themes, which can be tailored by modifying an existing theme, importing a custom theme from the Theme Gallery, or uploading your own personalized theme using a JSON file.

How to Customize Power BI Themes

To customize your own Power BI theme, start by clicking on the ‘View’ option in the ribbon. Then, select the drop-down in the themes section and choose ‘Customize Current Theme’.

This will give you access to the theme’s framework, where you can modify colors and elements according to your preferences.

In the subsequent section, we will discuss the ‘Name and Colors’ segment of the Power BI themes framework to provide you with a comprehensive understanding of how each element impacts your report’s design. Although the remaining sections are self-explanatory, we will not cover them here.

The ‘Name and Colors’ section of the Power BI themes framework comprises the following elements:

Name: This is where you input the name of your theme.

Theme Colors: These are the eight colors that make up the color palette accessible in the format section of the visualization pane. They are also the default colors assigned to visuals (refer to the ‘Theme Colors’ image above).

Sentiment Colors: These are the colors associated with visuals such as KPIs or gauges that indicate a positive or negative value.

Divergent Colors: These are the colors linked to visuals that represent a data range, typically portrayed on a single color scale ranging from light to dark.

How to Create your own Custom Power BI Theme

Step 1: Developing a Color Palette

Before starting to create a theme in Power BI, it’s crucial to have a clear idea of the colors to be used and where they will be applied. This step focuses on developing a color palette that adheres to best practices in data visualization design.

To create the color palette, the following resources will be utilized:

Color Palette Builder: This tool can be used to populate the color palette as per the requirements. It is pre-populated with ‘Theme 1 – Light’ from the provided template. The saturation of the palette can be adjusted using the ‘adjust palette’ feature to create a light or dark theme version of an existing color palette. Generally, light themes have higher saturation, while dark themes have lower saturation.
You can use coolors to make color palett.

Color Picker: This tool can be used to find new colors for the color palette.

Theme Color Palette

You should must pick atleast 10 colors for your color palette. This color palette consist of all the present colors.

Let’s now guide you through each of the colors mentioned above so that you can fill in your color palette builder accordingly.

Primary and Secondary Colors

‍Primary 1 is the lead color and represents several additional report elements.

‍If possible, use your brand’s color palette, but make sure you follow these guidelines:

‍Each color should contrast to be easily distinguishable.

For light themes, use saturated colors. You can alternate between a color’s shades using the color palette builder tool.

For dark themes, use lighter tones. Again, the color palette builder tool can help you alternate between shades.

If needed, you can find suitable colors in trending color palettes.


In light themes, headers should be black or a very dark shade of grey/blue if it suits your palette.

In dark themes, headers should be white or a very light shade of grey/blue if it suits your palette.

Text Color

In light themes, text should be dark grey or a dark bluish grey if it suits your palette.

In dark themes, text should be light grey or a light bluish grey if it suits your palette.

Slicer Color

To ensure good contrast and readability, it is recommended to select a slightly darker color than your background color for light themes.
On the other hand, for dark themes, it’s best to select a slightly lighter color than your visual color.

Make sure the color you choose is within the same color range as your background or visual color. You can use the color palette builder tool to explore different shades of a color.

Visual Color

For light themes
it’s recommended to use white as the visual color for maximum contrast and readability. This ensures that the text and other elements are easy to read and stand out against the lighter background.

For dark themes
it’s important to select a slightly lighter variant of your background color as the visual color. This ensures that the text and other elements are still visible and readable, while also maintaining a consistent color scheme throughout the report or dashboard. Using too light or too dark visual colors in a dark theme can make it difficult to read and negatively impact the overall user experience.


For light themes, it’s recommended to select a very light grey or a light grey with a hint of blue. This will create a pleasant and visually appealing backdrop for your report or dashboard, while still providing a high level of contrast for the text and other elements.

For dark themes, it’s important to avoid using pure black as the background color. Instead, it’s recommended to select an almost black color, which can help to reduce eye strain and improve readability. 

Step 2: Building your Theme

Now it’s time to build your Power BI theme using the Customize Theme framework. This involves transferring your color palette into Power BI and assigning the appropriate colors to the various elements in the framework.

To get started, open your report or dashboard file in Power BI and select the ‘View’ tab on the ribbon. Next, click on the ‘Themes’ dropdown and select ‘Customize Current Theme’. This will open up the Customize Theme framework.

Using the color palette you created in Step 1, match each color to the corresponding field in the Customize Theme framework. For more detailed instructions, refer to the Matching Themes PDF provided.

Once you’ve populated all the fields with your desired colors, simply apply your theme and make any final adjustments to your report or dashboard. Your customized theme is now ready to use!

Step 3: Amending your Visuals

While the Power BI Customize Theme framework is a great tool for customizing the look and feel of your reports and dashboards, there are some limitations to what it can do. To work around these limitations and gain more flexibility when customizing your visuals, we implement a few workarounds.

For example, we manually override some of the default formatting color options that are applied based on the ‘Advanced’ section of the Customize Theme framework. This allows us to customize our visuals more precisely and ensure that they maintain a consistent look and feel across different themes.

To see how this works in practice, take a look at the video below. In this example, we override the default background color on the slicer visual by using one of the colors from our color palette (in this case, color 8 or slicer color). Notice how the formatting is not affected by changing themes, as the visual inherits the new theme’s color 8.

For a full list of the elements that we manually override, see the list below:

Slicer background color = Slicer Color (Color 8)

Visual Data labels (inside only) = White

Shape Map Default Color = Slicer Color (Color 8)

Gauge Target Color = Header Color (Color 6)

Table/Matrix Column Headers = Slicer Color (Color 8) / Primary 1 (Color 1)

Using these workarounds, you can achieve a high level of customization and control over your visuals while still maintaining consistency across different themes.

Tips For Using Color in your Power BI Reports

To Show continuous data, use a single color and avoid adding unnecessary gradients.

  • When presenting comparison or part-to-whole insights, select easily distinguishable contrasting colors to help users differentiate between categories.
  • Use color to emphasize important information by choosing a stand-out color for essential insights and a muted color for less significant ones.
  • Avoid using too many colors that may overwhelm users, and limit the number of colors to a maximum of six in a visual.
  • Maintain consistency in colors across visuals by using a color palette, even if you need to alter a specific visual’s color, to achieve a polished and consistent design in your report.

Best Power BI Theme

  1. Dark –View Live Theme

2. Light – View Live

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