Font Families in Power BI

Font selection is one important but often overlooked aspect of creating content in Power BI. With the June 2017 Power BI Desktop update, the ability to change between font families expanded substantially. As of January 2018, Power BI offers 23 different font families for text boxes and various types of labels. The default font family is Segoe UI for labels and Segoe UI Light for text boxes.

Font selection can unintentionally make or break a report. Some fonts work well as typeface in print, others work well when viewed on the web, and others read well in a variety of media. Some fonts don’t work at all for common use but are available for specialized reasons, such as Wingdings. Other fonts come with historical baggage or will be criticized by font snobs many designers (for example, Comic Sans is to font snobbery design what a pie chart is to current views about effective data visualization). Even reputable authorities such as Saturday Night Live have recently jumped on the font selection bandwagon.

Consistency is also important. Try not to blend too many typefaces on a report page.

When selecting font families, consider your audience and how they will consume the report (primarily mobile app, web browser, or print). Seek out a font that reads well in the intended medium.

Note how the New Hires page from Power BI’s Human Resources Sample has a slightly different visual tone when the type appears as the default Segoe UI versus a monospaced font such as Consolas. By changing the font and nothing else about the report, it takes on a noticeably different character. Consolas has more of a distinct, “technical” appearance.

Using Segoe UI

HRSampleSegoeUILight

Using Consolas

HRSampleConsolas

The Microsoft Typography site has descriptions of Power BI’s fonts (and more) as well as notes about their ideal application. Here is a complete list of Power BI’s currently available fonts.

ArialArial BlackArial Unicode MSCalibriCambria
Cambria MathCandaraComic Sans MSConsolasConstantia
CorbelCourier NewGeorgiaLucida Sans UnicodeSegoe (Bold)
Segoe UISegoe UI lightSymbolTahomaTimes New Roman
Trebuchet MSVerdanaWingdings

Curiously, both Symbol and Wingdings do not render well in Power BI Desktop. I have not checked to see if this is peculiar to my local installation, but all fonts render correctly once you publish the report to Power BI Service.

Here is a view of Power BI’s available font families as seen in both Service and Desktop, and click here to learn how you can use Power BI Themes to do even more with font selection.

FontFamiliesService FontFamiliesDesktop

 




3 thoughts on “Font Families in Power BI

  1. Fonts are still the worst aspect of Power BI. The Chiclet Slicer, a really powerful and loved visual by my former clients, can only render Arial consistently. Which meant all my reports had to use Arial.

    • It’s tricky with custom visuals because there is no consistency with format options in general. Even with custom visuals published by Microsoft, it’s at the discretion of the developer as to what options are included.

  2. Nice post, David! A couple of thoughts. There is currently at least one font that is available in the default charts that is not available in the text box. This is the DIN font. You can use it on chart titles, axis labels and data labels. You can even use it in the title of a textbox, but you can’t use it in the textbox main content.

    Also, if you need to make accessible PBI reports (for low-vision users, those with learning disabilities, or ADD), you will want to avoid narrow fonts. Currently, sans serif fonts are said to be easier to read for web content. Here’s a good article about accessible fonts: http://www.creativebloq.com/features/master-accessible-web-typography. Although it’s geared toward web design, I think it makes a lot of good points to consider for Power BI report font selection.

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