Mastering Paginated Reports in Power BI: Tips and Tricks for Success

Power BI is a powerful tool that enables users to create interactive reports and visualizations to facilitate data-driven decision making. One of the key features of Power BI is the ability to create paginated reports. These reports, also known as ‘pixel-perfect’ or ‘SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) reports,’ provide a high level of control over report layout and formatting, making them perfect for generating invoices, official documents, or detailed data tables that need to span multiple pages.

In this blog post, we’ll explore several tips and tricks that will help you create professional and efficient paginated reports in Power BI.

  1. Plan your report layout

Before diving into Power BI, take a moment to plan your report layout. Consider the information you need to display and how it should be presented. This will ensure a more efficient design process and will help you avoid making unnecessary changes later on.

  1. Use Power BI Report Builder

To create paginated reports, you’ll need to use Power BI Report Builder. This standalone desktop application is specifically designed for creating paginated reports and provides a familiar SSRS environment. You can download the Power BI Report Builder from the Power BI website.

  1. Set up data sources and datasets

Once you’ve opened Power BI Report Builder, you’ll need to set up data sources and datasets. To do this, go to the “Report Data” window, right-click “Data Sources,” and click “Add Data Source.” After connecting to your data source, create a dataset by right-clicking “Datasets” and selecting “Add Dataset.” This process will allow you to access the data in your report.

  1. Use tables, matrices, and lists wisely

Paginated reports offer a variety of data regions, including tables, matrices, and lists. Each data region has its own unique capabilities:

  • Tables: Use tables for displaying data in a simple row and column format.
  • Matrices: Use matrices to show aggregate data, especially when you need to display row and column groupings.
  • Lists: Use lists to create free-form reports with varying data layouts.

Choose the appropriate data region based on your report’s requirements to ensure an efficient and organized layout.

  1. Leverage expressions for dynamic content

Expressions are a powerful way to create dynamic content in your paginated reports. You can use expressions to:

  • Concatenate fields
  • Format dates and numbers
  • Calculate totals and averages
  • Implement conditional formatting

Learn the basics of expression syntax and familiarize yourself with the available functions to unlock the full potential of your paginated reports.

  1. Utilize headers and footers

Headers and footers are essential for adding context and professionalism to your reports. Use them to display important information such as page numbers, report titles, and company logos. Headers and footers can also contain dynamic content using expressions, making them even more versatile.

  1. Manage page breaks and pagination

Controlling page breaks and pagination is crucial for ensuring a clean and well-organized report. Use the “Page Break” property in the properties window to control the placement of page breaks within your report. Additionally, you can use the “PrintOnFirstPage” and “PrintOnLastPage” properties to control the visibility of report items on the first and last pages.

  1. Preview and test your report

Always preview and test your report to ensure that it meets your requirements and displays correctly. This will help you identify any issues or discrepancies early in the design process, saving you time and effort in the long run.


Creating paginated reports in Power BI can be a rewarding experience when armed with the right knowledge and tools. By following the tips and tricks outlined in this blog post, you’ll be well on your way to mastering paginated reports and creating professional, efficient, and visually appealing documents. Remember to plan your layout, use the appropriate data regions, leverage expressions, and test your report thoroughly. By doing so, you’ll not only impress your colleagues and clients with your Power BI skills but also make data-driven decision-making more accessible and efficient for your organization. So, go ahead and unlock the full potential of Power BI paginated reports, and take your reporting capabilities to the next level!

This blogpost was generated by ChatGPT Pro as an experiment to see the level of quality it would generate.

Be sure to check out my YouTube channel!

I know it’s been quite some time since I’ve posted on here, and while I hope to start to post more regularly here, you can always find me posting regularly on my YouTube channel. And by regularly I mean “More than once a year” :).

It’s focused on Power BI and paginated reports, along with some other neat items I’ll sometimes focus on (like Premium per user!).

Make sure you check it out if you haven’t had the chance to do so – Chris Finlan’s YouTube channel

Thanks for reading everyone!

Happy birthday, Paginated Report Bear!


Paginated Report Bear turns 1 year old today.  He wasn’t expected to last more than a few weeks.


For those of you who aren’t familiar with Paginated Report Bear, my friend Chris Webb described him as follows – “Well, he’s the breakout social media star of 2019, a furry YouTube sensation whose incisive interviews of members of the Power BI development team have become renowned for their deep technical content and insights into the Power BI roadmap. If you’re not watching his videos on YouTube, you’re missing out.”


If you watch the very first video that “Padgie” did 1 year ago today, Chris’s description seems EXTREMELY generous.  The production quality was very low, and Mr. Matthew (my son) couldn’t even say “Paginated Reports”.  Why even do videos with a bear in the first place?  You see, my son had for some time wanted to do a YouTube video series with me where his stuffed animals would be included.  They had been granted various personalities and voices throughout the years by yours truly, and these characteristics have carried over to the videos.  I decided to rename “Mickey” to “Paginated Report Bear” because he was the lovable but dumb one, and I thought the name sounded ridiculous.  And since my (naïve) assumption was we’d do a few of these videos during my vacation, and my son would get tired of doing them, that would be that.  And that almost happened – there wasn’t any videos for a month from December to January, and I figured that was the end of it.


Then something strange happened – not only did my son want to do more, but some members of the Power BI community seemed to actually ENJOY the videos.  He was featured on Guy in a Cube, he was mentioned on the BiFocal podcast, and he was a hit at the MVP Conference in March (he even got an MVP pin!).  It was then that we decided to have him start interviewing members of the product team, starting with Lukasz back in April, and the rest is history.


But the biggest achievement of Paginated Report Bear is the one he’s taught my kids as they’ve watched their dad carry a cheap stuffed bear purchased from EBay to conferences across the country just so people can take a selfie with him – you can do something different, or be different, and be successful in your career and in life.  That means a lot, and shows the broad Power BI community can have an impact outside of the day to day product details.


So thank you, and I look forward to what the future has in store for Paginated Report Bear in the year ahead!


Free sample Power BI paginated report – Ultimate Export Report available for download

I recently came across an interesting article on MSSQLTips for SQL Server Reporting Services that showed how you could use a T-SQL query as the parameter value, and have it return a table of data as the result set from that query.  (The original article is here, and I will fully admit that all I did was take this author’s idea (and that of one of the commenters) and stick it into this sample report  – ). I wanted to see if this worked for Paginated Reports in Power BI, and of course it does!  So once I put in my connection string information for my Azure SQL database (the original article was against a traditional SQL Server database), I can write just about any select query against that database as a parameter at runtime and get back results in a nice table that can be exported out to Microsoft Excel.  I created a short video to show you how it works in practice –

Now there’s little chance I’d use this report as is in production – it’s really just a way for me to test some things, dump out data quickly, and it demos nicely.  But there are some ways you could potentially change this to make it more production friendly – have a list of dropdown values that represent the queries that you update on an ongoing basis, or even allow users to submit queries through a workflow you approve that updates the parameter list.

If you’d like to try it out yourself, feel free to download the sample report –

Ultimate Export Report

Once downloaded, you’ll need to update the data source with your connection string to whatever database you’ll use this against in Power BI Report Builder before you can use it in the service, but once you do that, you should be good to go.


Thanks for reading!

Use a Conditional Preview Image in Paginated Reports subscriptions in Power BI

Recently in Power BI, a new feature was added for Paginated Reports e-mail subscriptions where you could optionally add a preview image in the body of your e-mail message.  By default, this is the first page of your report.  However, it doesn’t have to be.  For example, in my e-mail subscription, I see the following preview image –


But when I view the report in the PDF attachment or in the web, I see the following report links as my first page –


How is this possible?

Well, one of the cool things you can do with Paginated Reports is set the visibility of items in your report to be conditional.  You do this by adding an expression that sets the condition for when it should be shown or hidden.  Since the preview image in your e-mail subscription uses the “IMAGE” output format, all I did was set the visibility of an item to be conditional based on that.  So I took all of the items you see in that preview image and added them to a tablix, then made that conditionally visible based on the following expression –
=ucase(Globals!RenderFormat.Name) <> “IMAGE”   

Now, the report renderer knows to hide that part of the report whenever the renderer is something other than the “IMAGE” output format.  I’ve attached the sample report below so you can try this out yourself.  You can test this in the Power BI service (if you have Premium) by setting up a new e-mail subscription with it, or in Power BI Report Builder by exporting it to a TIFF file.

Download Sample Report

Thanks for reading!

Use Outlook, Microsoft Flow and Paginated Reports to create Power BI Report and Dashboard E-Mail Subscriptions with PDF attachments


I hear this ask quite a bit these days – I want to be able to create e-mail subscriptions with PDF (or other file format) attachments of my full Power BI report or dashboard.  Well, you can actually do this already, thanks to Microsoft Flow and Paginated Reports in Power BI Premium or SQL Server Reporting Services/Power BI Report Server if you chose to do so.

If you read my blog post last week, I showed you how to use Flow to take your e-mail attachments and save them to a OneDrive for Business folder.  While I did it for PDF’s in that example, you can do it for any attachment type, including images, which is what you get today as an attachment when you subscribe to a Power BI Report or Dashboard.  The challenge is if you want an attachment of a full Power BI report, you only get one report page image per subscription.  However, you can stitch those items together into a paginated report that’s hosted either in Power BI Premium or SSRS and set that up as a subscription with a full report attachment.  Here’s how –

Let’s say I have four report pages total in my Power BI report.  I’ll create four subscriptions, 1 for each page.


Next, I’m going to create a paginated report where I show each of those images on a different page.  Since they are optimized for landscape, I am going to change my report properties to landscape in Power BI Report Builder.


With paginated reports, you can surface images one of three ways in your report.  You can do it either as an embedded image, an external image, or from a Database. 


Embedded images are what I used for the Paginated Report Bear sample report – I literally just saved the image files in the rdl you could download.  That doesn’t help in this use case. 

If I want to use an external images for each of the files, which is a URL image I point to, than I can create a Flow where I save the e-mail attachments from my Power BI subscriptions to a folder in OneDrive (personal), and then use the embed URL from each of those images as external sources for my report.  Each time I save a new image with the same name, my embed URL doesn’t change, so I can update the images as often as I like using Flow and my report will always show the latest.  I just need to add four images to my paginated report, each with a link to one of the report page URLs, and I’m done!

Anyone who cares about security is going bonkers right now, since sticking them in my personal OneDrive means they’re publicly available to anyone in the world.  A better (and safer) solution I’m using is saving them to an Azure SQL database, and then surfacing them as “Database” images in my paginated report.  My flow looks like this for that scenario –


What I did here was create a table in an Azure SQL database with three fields, and the Attachment field is an Image field.  (This is an admittedly sloppy table written for a blog post vs. production use.)  I also narrowed down the scope of the attachments by limiting the flow to those e-mails from the following address (I could be even more precise, but dinner is waiting in the other room) –


Now when my Flow is triggered (it checks my inbox every minute), if it finds a new item matching that rule, I see a new entry in my SQL table like so. 


With them saved to a SQL database, I have a few different options how to surface them in my report.  Either I do them as standalone items with a page break in between (Check out these two pages when I export out the report out to Word) –


With this method, I’m setting my SQL query to always show the most recent image for each page of my report.

Or perhaps in a table as a collection showing different report states over time if I want to show all the report images


Now, with my images saved in a paginated report, I can load it to either the Power BI service OR SQL Server Reporting Services, setup my subscription, choose the output format (PDF, Word, etc.) and there you have it – full report attachments of my Power BI reports sent as e-mail subscriptions!

Thanks for reading!

Yes, you can export unlimited** rows of data from Paginated Reports in Power BI


This question has come up more than I can count, so I am doing a super quick blog post to answer it for folks.

Many people are well aware of the limitations around exporting data in Power BI today.  The biggest one I hear about is you can’t export more than 150,000 rows to Excel from a Power BI Report visual.  Since people always want to export data, the question came to me immediately when we released the paginated report capabilities in Power BI if we had the same restriction.  I know from several customers I’ve worked with in the past that many of their SSRS reports are/were nothing more than a single table with some parameters that users visit to dump out the data they need to an Excel or CSV file, so I wasn’t that surprised it came up.

The answer is no, we don’t put any cap on the number of rows you can export from a paginated report in Power BI to Excel, CSV, or any of the formats we support.  The only limitation is the amount of memory that’s available for Paginated Reports in your Premium capacity.  Hence the asterisk in the blog title – eventually you’ll run out of memory if you try to export too much at one time, so if you try to export a table of 1 trillion rows and 40 columns to a CSV file, I’m fairly sure you’re out of luck and will fail.  But as you can see by the picture, I exported one of my reports with over 240,000 rows out to a CSV file without a hitch.

There’s much, much more you can do with Paginated Reports in Power BI (and Patrick LeBlanc has done some awesome videos about a number of those items on the Guy in a Cube YouTube channel), but for those folks who want to use paginated reports to help them with this use case, you absolutely can do so.

Thanks for reading!