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What is Z Order in Power BI?

As a report creator using Power BI Desktop, you have a lot of decisions to make about your visuals. While your data itself may not change, the way that you arrange it can make a big difference in how your team members understand and respond to it. 

If data presentation means a lot to you, then you may have already worked a lot with X and Y alignment in Power BI. But how much experience do you have with Z ordering? 

Z ordering gives report creators a way to use more complex visualizations and show more of what their data has to offer. You may have worked with Z ordering without realizing it, or you may be completely new to Z ordering. Either way, read on to see more of what you need to know. 

Understanding Z Order 

What is Z Order in Power BI

The Z order, or Z ordering, is a type of design strategy that can be used with your Power BI visuals. “Z order” refers to the front-to-back alignment of visuals in a report. It can also refer to design choice of placing visuals over shapes. 

There is no specific “Z order” button in Power BI. It’s simply a method of working with your reports to tell the most accurate and helpful story with your visuals. 

The Basics of Grid Alignment 

Power BI Desktop lets creators use gridlines as they arrange their visuals. Because Z ordering is a gridline-based strategy, you’ll need to understand gridlines before you can move forward with your Z order options. 

Gridlines provide better accuracy and aesthetics for your reports, giving them a more professional look. 

In Power BI, gridlines also come with a snap-to-grid option, which allows for faster usage and cleaner lines. 

How to Enable Gridlines 

Enabling gridlines is simple. Just use the following steps: 


  • Click on the View ribbon.
  • Click on the checkbox for “Show Guidelines.” 
  • You can also click on the “Snap Objects to Grid” checkbox if you’d like to use that option. 


How to Use Gridlines 

Once you’ve enabled gridlines on Power BI, you can use those gridlines to check the alignment of your visuals. Try using ctrl+click to select more than one visual at a time. This way, you can check their borders to see whether they align vertically or horizontally. 

Using Z Order with Grid Alignment 

Once you get the basics of grid alignment, you can start using those functions to work with Z ordering. Z ordering can help you get the most out of your visualizations, which will allow for easier communication about those visualizations when you send out your reports. 

Your Z Order Options 

Again, Z ordering is rearranging the front-to-back arrangement of your visuals. Here’s how you can start working with your Z order options within Power BI’s gridlines. 

Find the Format Ribbon 

The Format ribbon lets you arrange your visuals in whatever way works best for your reports. To start working with Z order, the first thing you’ll need to do is find that ribbon. You can see it at the top of your Power BI screen, in line with the Home button. 

Align Left 

One way to arrange your front-to-back formatting is to align your visuals to the left. Start by selecting a visual. Then, press the Align button. The Align function will then align your image to the left of the report. 

You can also select more than one visual before you press the Align button. If you do this, then your visuals will line up with each other along the grid. 

Evenly Distribute Your Visuals 

Another option is to evenly distribute your visuals across your report. You can use this option by going back to the Format ribbon. From there, click on the Distribute button. The Distribute function will then arrange your visuals neatly across the report screen. 

Manually Arrange Your Z Order 

You also have the option of working with your Z order manually. Every once in a while, you may find the need to tell a very particular story with your data or communicate your data in a very specific way. In that case, automated Z order options may not provide the spacing that you need. During these times, you can align your visuals yourself along the gridlines to help your reports send the right message. 

Benefits of Working with Z Order in Power BI 

Once you get the hang of working with Z order, you’ll notice a few benefits that come from using this option. 

Get the Arrangement that Works Best for Your Reports 

Again, as a report creator, you’ll sometimes need your reports to send messages in a specific way. The arrangement of data can play a big part in whatever message that data sends. If you’re trying to communicate or emphasize a specific point with your data, then the arrangement of that data can help your message hit home. 

Better Report Aesthetics 

By working with Z order functions, you can do more than communicate the right messages about your data. You can also give your reporting a better aesthetic as a whole. The gridlines alone can make your reports look more professional. When you add your Z order options into the mix, you can create even more pleasing visuals than with gridlines alone. 

Overlap Visuals Your Way 

Finally, Z ordering lets you overlap your visuals as you see fit. As a result, you get more control over your formatting. 

Working with Z Order in PBRS Software 

Once you’ve organized your data the way you want it, why not personalize your reports, too? With PBRS from ChristianSteven Software, you can. 

The Format that Works 

Those who use Z ordering with Power BI tend to have more particular formatting needs than many other Power BI users. PBRS offers simplified Power BI formatting solutions for these users. Users can send their reports across a variety of formats, including PDF, Excel, MS Word, and much more. 

Automated Report Distribution 

PBRS also allows for automated report distribution, which lets creators save time on their perfectly-formatted reports. Instead of manually sending Power BI reports one by one, you can set them up to go exactly when and where they need to go. 

Contact ChristianSteven Software Today 

Ready to make the most of Z ordering and other Power BI options? ChristianSteven’s PBRS software can help you gain complete control over how your Power BI reports. Schedule a live demo or start your free trial today. 

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