Types of Reports

In Reporting Services, you can use reports in a variety of ways. This topic describes the terminology used to describe the various types of reports and the ways reports get created and used. A single report can have characteristics from more than one type; for example, snapshot reports can be parameterized, ad hoc reports incorporate clickthrough report functionality due to the report models upon which they are based, and subreports can be linked reports.

With Reporting Services, you can create the following types of reports:

  • Parameterized reports

  • Linked reports

  • Snapshot reports

  • Cached reports

  • Ad hoc reports

  • Clickthrough reports

  • Drilldown reports

  • Drillthrough reports

  • Subreports

Report Appearance, Processing, and Delivery Terminology

There are several ways to think about report type. You might think about it as the way data appears in the report. In Reporting Services, the appearance of data in a report depends on the type of data region you use; for example, tabular reports and chart reports use different data regions. For more information about how to display data, see Data Regions and Maps (Report Builder 3.0 and SSRS). Likewise, the functionality that is available in a report depends on the output format; for example, interactive features like drillthrough reports are available in Web-based export formats but not in all Image-based export formats. A report's final output format affects which features you can include in a report. For more information about design considerations for various export formats, see Exporting Reports (Report Builder 3.0 and SSRS).

There is also terminology associated with the stage of processing a report is in. For more information about the differences between reportdefinitions, publishedreports, and renderedreports, see Reports, Report Parts, and Report Definitions (Report Builder 3.0 and SSRS). Finally, for information about report scheduling and on-demand reports, see Scheduling Reports, Shared Datasets, and Subscriptions.

Parameterized Reports

A parameterized report uses input values to complete report or data processing. With a parameterized report, you can vary the output of a report based on values that are set when the report runs. Parameterized reports are frequently used for drillthrough reports, linked reports, and subreports, connecting and filtering reports with related data.

Using Parameters

Parameters are used in dataset queries to select report data, to filter the result set that the query returns, or to set layout properties used to display or hide parts of a report. You can also specify cascading parameters that populate a series of dependent, drop-down parameter lists. For example, a drop-down list of Region parameter values can be used to populate a drop-down list of City parameter values.

You can use parameters with linked reports by pairing a specific parameter with each linked report to change the outcome. For example, you can create a single regional sales report that shows the sales for all regions, and then use a parameter for each linked report to filter data for a particular region. Specific parameter values can be stored with the report so that users do not have to type values.

Not all parameters may be visible in the report at run time. A report author, report server administrator, or content manager can specify which values to use and then hide the input fields on the report.

Query Parameters and Report Parameters

Reporting Services supports two kinds of parameters: query parameters and report parameters. Query parameters are used during data processing to select or filter data. Query parameters are specified in the syntax of a data processing extension. If a query parameter is specified, a value must be provided either by the user or by default properties to complete the SELECT statement or stored procedure that retrieves data for a report. Report parameters are used during report processing to show a different aspect of the data. A report parameter is usually used to filter a large set of records, but it can have other uses depending on the queries and expressions used in the report. Report parameters differ from query parameters in that they are defined in a report and processed by the report server, while query parameters are defined as part of the dataset query and processed on the database server. For more information, see Parameters (Report Builder 3.0 and SSRS) and Setting Parameter Properties for a Published Report.

Linked Reports

A linked report is a report server item that provides an access point to an existing report. Conceptually, it is similar to a program shortcut that you use to run a program or open a file.

A linked report is derived from an existing report and retains the original's report definition. A linked report always inherits report layout and data source properties of the original report. All other properties and settings can be different from those of the original report, including security, parameters, location, subscriptions, and schedules.

You can create a linked report on the report server when you want to create additional versions of an existing report. For example, you could use a single regional sales report to create region-specific reports for all of your sales territories.

Although linked reports are typically based on parameterized reports, a parameterized report is not required. You can create linked reports whenever you want to deploy an existing report with different settings. For more information, see Adding, Modifying, and Deleting Linked Reports.

Snapshot Reports

A report snapshot is a report that contains layout information and query results that were retrieved at a specific point in time. Unlike on-demand reports, which get up-to-date query results when you select the report, report snapshots are processed on a schedule and then saved to a report server. When you select a report snapshot for viewing, the report server retrieves the stored report from the report server database and shows the data and layout that were current for the report at the time the snapshot was created.

Report snapshots are not saved in a particular rendering format. Instead, report snapshots are rendered in a final viewing format (such as HTML) only when a user or an application requests it. Deferred rendering makes a snapshot portable. The report can be rendered in the correct format for the requesting device or Web browser.

Report snapshots serve three purposes:

  • Report history. By creating a series of report snapshots, you can build a history of a report that shows how data changes over time.

  • Consistency. Use report snapshots when you want to provide consistent results for multiple users who must work with identical sets of data. With volatile data, an on-demand report can produce different results from one minute to the next. A report snapshot, by contrast, allows you to make valid comparisons against other reports or analytical tools that contain data from the same point in time.

  • Performance. By scheduling large reports to run during off-peak hours, you can reduce processing impact on the report server during core business hours.

For more information about creating report snapshots, see Setting Report Processing Properties.

Cached Reports

A cached report is a saved copy of a processed report. Cached reports are used to improve performance by reducing the number of processing requests to the report processor and by reducing the time required to retrieve large reports. They have a mandatory expiration period, usually in minutes. For more information about how to use cached reports, see Caching Reports (SSRS).

Clickthrough Reports

A clickthrough report is a report that displays related data from a report model when you click the interactive data contained within your model-based report. These reports are generated by the report server based on the information contained within the report model. The person who created the model determines which fields are interactive and which fields are returned when a clickthrough report is opened. These field settings cannot be changed in the report authoring tools.

Clickthrough reports are autogenerated. However, you can create an alternative customized report to the model for interactive data items that is displayed instead. The custom report is a standard Reporting Services report. For more information, see Working with Clickthrough Reports.

Drilldown Reports

Drilldown reports initially hide complexity and enable the user to toggle conditionally hidden report items to control how much detail data they want to see. Drilldown reports must retrieve all possible data that can be shown in the report. For more information, see Hiding and Showing Report Items by Adding Drilldown (Report Builder 3.0 and SSRS).

For reports with large amounts of data, consider drillthrough reports instead.

Drillthrough Reports

Drillthrough reports are standard reports that are accessed through a hyperlink on a text box in the original report. Drillthrough reports work with a main report and are the target of a drillthrough action for a report item such as placeholder text or a chart. The main report displays summary information, for example in a matrix or chart. Actions defined in the matrix or chart provide drillthrough links to reports that display greater details based on the aggregate in the main report. Drillthrough reports can be filtered by parameters, but they do not have to be. Drillthrough reports differ from subreports in that the report does not display within the original report, but opens separately. They differ from clickthrough reports in that they are not autogenerated from the data source, but are instead custom reports that are saved on the report server. They differ from drilldown reports in that they retrieve the report data only for the specified parameters or for the dataset query. For more information, see Drillthrough Reports (Report Builder 3.0 and SSRS).


A subreport is a report that displays another report inside the body of a main report. Conceptually, a subreport is similar to a frame in a Web page. It is used to embed a report within a report. Any report can be used as a subreport. The subreport can use different data sources than the main report. The report that the subreport displays is stored on a report server, usually in the same folder as the parent report. You can set up the parent report to pass parameters to the subreport.

Although a subreport can be repeated within data regions using a parameter to filter data in each instance of the subreport, subreports are typically used with a main report as a briefing book or as a container for a collection of related reports. For more information, see Subreports (Report Builder 3.0 and SSRS).

For reports with many instances of subreports, consider using drillthrough reports instead.