Friday 22 December 2023

What is the difference between a new column and a new measure in Power BI ? Power BI interview questions and answers 079

What is the difference between a new column and a new measure in Power BI ?

In Power BI, both new columns and new measures allow you to manipulate and analyze your data, but they differ significantly in scope, granularity, and purpose:

New Column:

  • Scope: Specific to the table where it's created.

  • Granularity: Works at the row level, calculating a unique value for each row based on the defined formula.

  • Purpose: Adds new data points based on existing columns within the same table. Think of it like extending the table with calculated values.

  • Functionality: Formulas can only access other columns in the same table (unless connected through relationships).

  • Use cases: Ideal for adding derived values like percentage changes, ratios, or custom calculations specific to a single table.

New Measure:

  • Scope: Applies to the entire data model and can be used in any visualization.

  • Granularity: Flexible, changing based on the context of the visualization. For example, a "Total Sales" measure can show total sales for the entire dataset, per year, per region, etc.

  • Purpose: Defines dynamic calculations for use in reports and visualizations. These calculations can change based on filters, slicers, and user interactions with the report.

  • Functionality: Can access columns from multiple tables through relationships and use various DAX functions for complex calculations.

  • Use cases: Creating key performance indicators (KPIs), dynamic calculations for charts and graphs, and summarizing data across different levels of granularity.

Here's a table summarizing the key differences:


New Column

New Measure


Single table

Entire data model


Row level

Flexible based on context


Add new data points

Define dynamic calculations


Accesses columns in the same table

Accesses columns from multiple tables

Use cases

Derived values, ratios, custom calculations

KPIs, dynamic calculations, summaries

Choosing the Right Tool:

The best choice depends on your specific needs:

  • Use a new column when you need to add a new data point relevant to a single table based on its existing columns.

  • Use a new measure when you need a dynamic calculation that can be used in various visualizations and change based on different contexts and filters.

Remember, each tool has its strengths and limitations. Understanding their differences empowers you to choose the right approach for analyzing and manipulating your data in Power BI.

I hope this clarifies the distinction between new columns and new measures. Feel free to ask if you have any further questions!

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