Your 2020 Guide to Paginated Reports in Power BI

By | 2020-06-05T15:56:29-06:00 June 5th, 2020|

Data is everything. We are continually innovating new ways to collaborate, express, and share the essential pieces of information companies, like you, need to be successful. Amidst a pursuit for the perfect data presentation, Microsoft created Paginated Reports in Power BI to help you readily share information across your business in a clear, concise way.

So, how can your business harness the power of paginated reports? Let us find out.

What Are Paginated Reports?

Paginated reports are reports designed to be printed or shared. They get their name from the fact that users specially create them to fit on one page. They display all the data you need in a table, even if the information spans multiple pages. Although you design paginated reports to fit on one page, they often have many pages.

For example, a report of 700 pages would have a repeating layout on each page as well as repeating headers and footers. You may hear paginated reports called pixel-perfect reports since you can control the page layout precisely.

Power BI Premium and the Paginated Reports Feature

To access Power BI paginated reports, you need to have Power BI Premium. Power BI Premium offers advanced, self-service data preparation that enables every user to deliver insights and collaborate easily. With Premium, users can view all Power BI content, including paginated and interactive reports, without needing to purchase individual licensing.

Setting Up Your Workspace

Once you acquire Power BI Premium, you are ready to set up your workspace. After you have purchased Premium, you will need to assign one or more Power BI workspaces to the premium capacity. When you turn the dedicated capacity on, you can access the Paginated Report Builder and begin creating pixel-perfect reports.

Build, Design and Review Paginated Reports

The first step in building a report in the Power BI Paginated Report Builder is choosing your data source. A paginated report can have multiple data sources; it does not have an underlying data model. Keep in mind; you cannot use shared data sources or shared datasets. You create the reports in Report Builder on your local computer, and if a report connects to an on-premises data source, you need to create a gateway to redirect the data connection.

Here is a list of the data sources you can connect to right now:

  • Azure Analysis Services (via SSO)
  • Azure SQL Database and Data Warehouse (via Basic and oAuth)
  • SQL Server via a gateway
  • SQL Server Analysis Services via a gateway
  • Power BI Datasets
  • Oracle
  • Teradata

Now that you have connected your data, you can design your report. Users can create paginated reports with matrix, chart, and free-form layouts. Tables work best for column-based data, while matrix reports are useful for summarized data. If you are new to paginated reports or building reports in Microsoft Power BI, you can start with a Report Builder wizard to walk you through creating the embedded data source connection and embedded dataset.

Report design does not end with choosing the format. Users can modify data by filtering, grouping, and sorting data in addition to adding formulas or expressions. For an enhanced visual experience, you can add charts, gauges, sparklines, and indicators.

When you finish building and designing your paginated report, you can view it in the Power BI service in a browser and the Power BI mobile app. You can export the report in different formats, including HTML, MHTML, PDF, XML, CSV, TIFF, Word, and Excel.

There Are Subscriptions for Everything— Why Not Reports!

There are subscriptions for anything and everything you can imagine, so why not a paginated report? Users can set up email subscriptions for paginated reports within the Power BI service. You can choose how often you want to receive reports, and on the selected day of your subscription cycle, you receive an email that contains a PDF attachment of the report output.

Limitations and Considerations of Paginated Reports

Microsoft continues to update reporting capabilities within the Power BI platform, but this would not be an “everything-you-need-to-know” article without highlighting a few of the limitations. In the initial release, you cannot pin paginated report pages or visuals to Power BI dashboards. You can still pin visualizations to a Power BI dashboard from an on-premises paginated report on a Power BI Report Server. Additionally, you cannot document maps, drill-through reports, or utilize shared data sources and datasets.

So, What Now?

Now, you are a paginated reports pro, or at least you know where your company needs to start to harness the power of pixel-perfect reporting. If you are curious and ready to begin, reach out to a Microsoft Partner to help you build a roadmap specifically for your business.

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