The Difference Between Measures and Metrics

Measures and metrics have different purposes, so it’s important to think strategically before using one. Choosing the wrong measurement can lead to redundant work, slower execution speed and lower data flexibility.

In Power BI, you can use either Measures or Calculated Columns to calculate values within a visualization. Both provide dynamic context-dependent calculations, but they differ in other ways.


Measures are raw data representations, like numbers and values, that can be summed and averaged to quantify size or quantity. They are used in business to assess different aspects of a system, such as sales, leads or customer satisfaction. Metrics, on the other hand, are derived from measures and are more specific to a process or goal.

In music, a measure is a set amount of beats defined by a piece’s time signature. It is also the term for a group of staff symbols that are broken up into consistent intervals and indicated by vertical lines in sheet music, commonly called bars.

The characterization of measurement as “the quantification of results obtained through comparison with available references” is too broad to capture many kinds of perceptual and linguistic activity that are not usually considered measurements. And while this characterization fits most of the historical literature on measurement, there are also numerous works that do not squarely fit into either of these strands.


Measures provide insights into data but can also be hard to understand when viewed alone. They are simple numbers and need to be put into context with other data to gain meaning. For example, the average duration of a process is a measurement but doesn’t tell the whole story by itself.

A measure of a strong alcoholic drink such as whiskey is an official standard amount. Malcolm poured himself another large measure.

In mathematics, a measure is an abstract notion that assigns a value to each set in a collection of sets. It is important for many technical applications and provides the foundation of probability theory, integration theory, and a number of other mathematical concepts.

When used correctly, metrics and measures can help organizations achieve their goals by focusing on key aspects of the business. They can also help predict future performance and adjust strategies accordingly. These insights are crucial to businesses. A good metric should accurately reflect what drives your business and provide valuable insight into your current situation.


Measures are the essential building blocks of metrics and KPIs. You must choose measures that accurately reflect what you want to quantify and that can help you glean insights into business performance. These insights should be actionable and relevant to your goals.

You should also select measures that are repeatable and can be analyzed over time, which helps you monitor critical trends. Strategic measures should be analyzed annually or monthly at a minimum.

Like dimensions, measures are a part of your Power Pivot data model and can be used to create relationships between tables. However, unlike dimensions, they are not cell dependent. This means that errors introduced by things such as cut/paste, inserting/deleting rows or cell formatting will be eliminated at the beginning, which leads to much faster execution speed and greater flexibility when using Power BI. Furthermore, they do not use RAM memory until you add them to a visual or data intersection. You can also organize them into Display Folders for easy access.


A measure is a classification of raw data, such as a number or value. It can be used to calculate sums or averages, or it may represent business-specific metrics.

A metric provides context around a measure, making it more useful. A good metric should be accurate (in that it measures what it claims to), and it should also align with business goals.

In Power BI, you can use both Measures and Calculated Columns to perform advanced calculations in visuals and reports. However, it’s best to choose Measures when you need flexible calculations that change with context, such as those found in PivotTables and PivotCharts. Use Calculated Columns when you need static values, row-level calculations or as an optimization technique. Using the same field in both will result in duplicate calculations. This can cause confusion when viewing results in the Fields list. Alternatively, you can create a special table with only measures and move it to the top of the Fields list.

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