Power BI: What Happens if I Create a Report with a Vertical Layout (Portrait Mode)?

Power BI: What Happens if I Create a Report with a Vertical Layout (Portrait Mode)?
Reading Time: 4 minutes

The default Power BI report layout uses a landscape orientation. While it’s not common to see report pages that use portrait mode, Prathy Kamasani (blog/twitter) has a notable example in Power BI here. Others have tried it as well. It’s used occasionally in other data communities or data-driven journalism. Overall, if you want to guide someone through your analysis by having them scroll like a web page, it may be an option to try.

So what happens if I create a report with a vertical layout in Power BI?

Not much. Except you might get questions. Some may begin with “Why did you do use a vertical layout?” You might be okay with a “tall” page until you hear “Why does this Power BI report take a long time to load?”, at which point, you’ve gone too far…

Personally, I do not see a vertical layout as a good option in most circumstances–with one critical exception. I think it’s at least worth a try if you have the right combination of:
1) Publish to Web or Embedded report with a small number of visuals and that has width constraints on the web page into which you’re embedding (blog or news page with sidebar, for example).
2) Viewers who are not familiar with Power BI’s interactivity and navigation options (typically external, public viewers)

With internal reporting or for users already familiar with Power BI’s interactivity like drill through, cross filtering, advanced page navigation and more; use a more traditional layout with which people are familiar.

UPDATE: Embedded “in the wild” Example

After initially posting this, Nick Nigro shared an example with me where it’s used and embedded outside of Power BI’s Data Stories Gallery. Let us know what you think, and thanks Nick!
https://securingdemocracy.gmfus.org/hamilton-dashboard/

Format: Page Size

Under the Page Size format area, Power BI has different Type options. While the default uses a 16:9 aspect ratio, choosing the Custom type and manually adjusting the Width and Height allows you to define any size and resulting orientation you would want.

For example, a simple vertical layout might involve swapping the default width and height so that 720 pixels are now used for the width and 1280 pixels are used for the height. You could define height at any (well-performing, reasonable) value based on the needs of your report though.

Don’t Forget “Fit To Width”

The default Page View option in Power BI is Fit to Page, but when using a vertical layout, the entire page appears on screen. This default makes it more difficult to design. Instead, if you attempt a vertical layout, go to the View tab in the ribbon, select Page View, and then choose Fit to Width. Actual Size might be reasonable too depending on your dimensions.

This option stretches the report canvas to take the available width, and you scroll up and down to add visuals along your vertical layout.

Pros

  • Mimics the natural scrolling behavior of someone browsing a website.
  • Gives the viewer more control over their navigation.
  • More content fits on a single page (although see a Con below if you add to many visuals to a page).
  • Good top to bottom story format.
  • Could help with more easily viewing content if public Publish to Web reports are embedded in sites with reduced width (such as a news page or blog with a sidebar) or if the audience will largely be viewing the Publish to Web report on mobile.

Cons

  • Poor format for reports that are highly interactive, rely on a lot of cross filtering for analysis, bookmarks, etc.
  • Scrolling could be confusing to viewers at first since this page orientation is not commonly used in Power BI.
  • May be difficult to find specific visuals compared to standard page navigation where entire pages appear on screen.
  • Viewer will not know if the report page is 1,000 pixels or 20,000 pixels (how tall is tall?).
  • Since a single page can be as tall as you want, performance may suffer as you add more and more visuals to the page.
  • Export to PDF or PowerPoint does not maintain the Fit to Width setting, so a single page in Power BI is still a single page when exporting.

Can you think of any more Pros or Cons of using a vertical report layout in Power BI? I’d appreciate your comments below.

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