Import an Excel file into PowerBI

Import Excel
Import Excel Data into Power BI

We are going to kick this blog off with a simple example of how to load data from excel into Power BI Desktop.

Note: I’m a firm believer of always understanding your data.  If you are receiving data files or extracts from an automated system or from an individual, trust me it will make a difference.  So, make sure you understand the source of the data and how the structure of your data may change over time.  For example, you have have a column that has both text values and number values; or the data may add additional columns in the future.  Thus, the data load into Power BI Desktop (PBID) will need to be flexible.

Lets start off with some simple data in excel:

Excel Data Image
Sample of Data in Excel

We have three columns of data, two have number in it and one has text values.

For now we will close out of excel and jump over to Power BI Desktop.  Once the program loads we will click the Home ribbon then select the Get Data button.

Get Data Button
Button for Get Data

After pressing the button a new menu will pop up showing us all the sources where data can be ingested from.  The very first item in the list is Excel.  Click the Excel then click the Connect button in the lower right hand corner.

Excel Data Source
Select Excel as Data Source

After clicking Connect a new window will pop up asking for the location of the Excel file.  Navigate to our sample data called Book1.xlsx you can down load the actual file I used here: Book1  I saved my Book1.xlsx file on the desktop of my computer.  Select Book1 and then Click Open.

Open Excel File
Open Excel File Dialog Box

Next we are presented with the Navigator screen that reveals what is inside the workbook.  There are two sheets.  For now we are only interested in the data on Sheet1.  Select Sheet1 and then click Load.  This will load our data from Sheet1 into the Power BI Desktop data model.

Navigator Image
Navigator Selection Screen

Now our data has been added to the Power BI Desktop data model.  The data and the various columns we loaded can be found in the tool bar at the far right of PBI called Fields.

Fields View
Location of Loaded Excel Data

Tech Tip: Power BI Desktop (PBI) opening the file and loading the relevant data into the memory of the computer.  This has an approximate 4 to 1 compression ratio.  In practical terms this means that a 100MB file will only consume 25MB of file size in PBI when it is saved.  This is extremely useful as the data model can be quite large when loading multiple data files but the PBI file will compress down to a manageable size.


Make a PBI Table
Make a Data from Column Sales and Category

Finally, the Sheet1 data table can be expanded into is respective columns by clicking the triangle next to the table icon.  Finally you can drag and drop the column names into the visualization page to begin making visualizations.  For this demo I used the Category Column and the Sales column to make a table.

By selecting a different visualization in the visualizations bar you can change your data table into a Bar Chart.

Power BI Desktop Bar Chart
Data Transformed into a Bar Chart

Well that is it for the first tutorial.  Share your thoughts and comments below.  Let me know if you have any suggestions on what you would like to see next.


  1. I am trying to upload .xlsx file to power bi desktop. I can see the file in preview but the ‘load button’ stays grey. What am I doing wrong? Thanks.

    • On the left side of the navigator window there should be tables or sheets of data are are contained within the excel file. Pick one of the sheets or tables from the left side of the import excel window. This will make a yellow checked box next to the data that will be loaded. Once one of the boxes are checked then the load button will turn yellow. Then you can load the data into the data model.

    • You can Right Click on Sheet —> there you can see option of Load

  2. Hi, thanks for writing, but I have a question: how to enlarge the table display? My table size is very very very small and I’ve been searching the font size option etc but found nothing. Thanks!

  3. Thank you for the post. Unfortunately, I don’t get the Navigator window after Open (for Sheet selection). I have

    Version: 2.53.4954.481 64-bit (December 2017)

    “We encountered an error while trying to connect.
    Details: “Required Types tag not found. Line 2, position 2.””

    Do you have any idea why?

    • Your version of the desktop is likely old. You will need to update to the latest version to see this. Power BI updates every month and having the latest version will likely change your get data experience slightly.

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