How to Run Paginated Reports

About Paginated Reports

Paginated reports are interactive Microsoft reports that present data inside tables or visualizations. They do not have Power BI's complex data-modeling or performance advantages; instead, they are best-suited to providing users with narrower datasets that target a specific purpose (e.g., "I need a report that shows me each student who changed his or her major this year") and thus don't require as much exploration or "data discovery."

Report Viewer Layout

Paginated reports are run via a "report viewer" which has three distinct sections:

  1. Report parameters allow you to change how the report is run. Once you have selected your parameters, you click the "View Report" button on the far-right side of this area to run the report.
  2. The report toolbar gives you options for interacting with the report after it is run, including page controls, refreshing the report, printing, or exporting.
  3. The report area contains all of the report content, including a header and footer (if applicable) and the report body where data is displayed in tables and charts.


Using Parameters to Filter Data

Report parameters allow you to change how the report is run. Their primary purpose is to filter the dataset that gets returned to the user, like showing you only classes in the Political Science department. However, parameters can also be used to change the appearance and behavior of the report itself, such as by highlighting rows in a table or hiding a particular chart.

Different types of parameters are:

  1. Drop-down lists, either single-select or multi-select, that are populated from a dataset or a static list of values.
  2. Calendar/date-picker controls that allow you to filter the data by a date or range of dates.
  3. Text boxes for user-defined numeric or text values.
  4. True/False (aka "boolean") options.

Other things to know about parameters:

  1. Parameters can be optional or required in order to run a report.
  2. Many parameters have a default value that gets populated automatically when the report is initially loaded, but they can also be blank at first.
  3. If all the report parameters have a default value when the report is first opened, the report will automatically run with those parameters selected. Otherwise, the user must select his or her parameters and then click the "View Report" button on the far-right side of the parameters section.
  4. Some parameters are hidden to prevent users from changing them (e.g., a parameter that populates with your username, but remains hidden so you can't type in someone else's username and see their data).
Example of a drop-down list parameter with multi-select capability. Note the "(Select All)" option.
Example of a calendar/date-picker parameter.


Using the Report Toolbar

After you've selected your parameters and run the report, you can interact with the report using the toolbar.


Report toolbar options include:

  • Page controls: first page, previous page, next page, last page, or select a specific page.
  • Refresh report: clicking this button will cause the report to re-query the database for newer data unless the report is configured to only pull data from a cached dataset.
  • Go back to parent report: if you navigated to this report from within another report (known as a "drillthrough" action), you can go back to the parent report by clicking this button.
  • Zoom level: use this drop-down menu to zoom in or zoom out in the report area.
  • Export: export the report to another format from a drop-down list of available options (Excel, CSV, PDF, Word, etc.).
  • Print: print the report using different paper sizes and orientations (landscape and portrait).
  • Pin to Power BI dashboard: this option is only relevant to users who maintain a cloud-based Microsoft Power BI service account. It allows you to pin certain visualizations (charts, gauges, and maps) from your paginated report into a Power BI dashboard, unless those visualizations are nested within other report items.
  • Search for text in the report: if you type a numeric or text value into this box and click the "Find" button, the report will highlight your search string in the first place where it occurs in the report area. You can use the "Next" button to sift through all the places where your search string occurs. Note that this is a "wild card" search: if you search for "pol," the report will locate entries including Political, Politics, and Anthropology.

Exporting Reports

Paginated reports can be exported from the report viewer into several file formats:

  • Microsoft Word
  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft PowerPoint
  • Adobe PDF
  • TIFF (Tagged Image File Format) - this is a raster graphics image that is useful for faxing, scanning, or optical character recognition (OCR).
  • MHTML (web archive) - this is a type of aggregated web page that contains all of the report's code and resources (images, charts, etc.) in a single file. It's especially useful for embedding a report in the body of an email (see: subscriptions).
  • CSV (comma delimited) - this is a comma-separated values file that presents your data in a plain-text format, devoid of any styles, hyperlinks, or other adornments. Column headers and their values are delimited from each other by commas.
  • XML file with report data - this exports the report data as a simple XML data feed with no styles, hyperlinks, or other resources.
  • Data feed - this exports the report as an ATOMSVC file, which is essentially another form of XML feed.

After a report has been exported and saved to your hard drive or another location, you'll be able to see all the report content in your target format. Headers and footers may be configured in the report designer to only show on certain pages, but the report body will always be visible. Page margins and other document properties are also configured in the report designer, but you can modify them after you have exported the report to a format like Word or Excel. For this reason, it is sometimes recommended to export to Word or Excel BEFORE trying to print out a report, because you can more easily make adjustments to the print settings.

Note: Once a report has been exported, you cannot change its parameters. if you need to export a different dataset, you'll need to return to the report in your web browser, change the parameters, re-run the report, and then export it again.

When viewing an exported report in Microsoft Excel, footers will only be visible if you select the "View" tab from the ribbon and click "Page Layout."

Printing Reports

The report toolbar allows you to send a report directly to a printer via your web browser. However, the report server's print functionality is rather limited, and you will be constrained by the page layout that the report author set up when they built the report. If you know that the report is printer-friendly, then using this option is probably preferable. However, if you're in doubt that the report is printer-friendly, we recommend that you first export the report into a flexible format like Microsoft Word or Excel, which have more capabilities to adjust page layouts and print settings, and then print the report from that application.


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