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Format Conventions for Cognos Reports

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Below is a list of convention used by the Cognos Team to build the reports in the Cognos Public folders,  These conventions should be used as Best Practice Guidelines when you begin building your own reports.

Naming Reports

  • All reports should have the report name included in the header
  • Any report with no prompting should have a report name suffix No Prompt (e.g. Current Balances No Prompt)
  • Confirm report name is permanent before sending links to reports to ensure the links will always work.


  • All reports should have a consistent look
  • All reports should have a screen tip describing it
  • All reports should be spot-checked against the system of record for data accuracy before being deployed to Test for further verification by data owners and users.

Headers and Footers

  • All reports with filters should display the filters set underneath the report name (dynamic ParamDisplay) with appropriate identifying text
  • All reports should have a footer with "Report run on": Date, "Report run by": Name , "Page X of N"   Use font size 8, padding at top of 10, divide footer table in thirds, 34,33,33.

Property Settings

  • All reports with grouping headers that contain text fields should have an appropriate Size and Overflow pixel width set so that the columns in separated groups will line up even when text items are different lengths.
  • All reports should have a dynamic "no contents" alert page referencing any filters set
  • For all reports, in Properties, select Page and set PDF Page Setup to Landscape
  • For all reports, in Properties, select both List and Page and under Pagination, uncheck "Allow horizontal pagination" in both places (so that PDF reports will size to the page width)
  • For list reports, set rows per page to 10000

Prompt pages

  • All prompt pages should have a title "Selection criteria for (report name)".
  • Use font size 9 throughout prompt pages. 
  • All prompts should be in a table with a pale blue background (custom color EOEEFF) and surrounded by a border; use separate tables with space between for either/or choices; move action buttons ("Cancel," "Finish") up under prompts instead of leaving in footer.  
  • If there are required prompts and also optional prompts, have a second prompt page for the optional prompts.
  • If prompts need to be entered in all upper case, the upper function should be applied to both the prompt and the Layout Calculation in both the report header & no contents page so that they will be upper case even if the user enters a prompt in lower case.


  • In report filters: Should be in a table (with border) between header and body, with a descriptive title row using the pale blue background color in the title row.  Use font size 9 for header row and font size 8 for prompts.
  • Optional filters should either be on a second prompt page, with a "click here...." on the initial prompt page, or be in report filters between the header and the body of the report.

Drill Throughs

  • When descriptions are wanted for field names or drill-throughs, they should be done with a hover-over, not by adding a text description on the report page.
  • Drill-throughs should always be conditional drill-throughs in cases where drilling would yield no results, so that users do not drill to a blank page.


Documentation and information provided by the MIT Community

Last Modified:

December 03, 2015

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