How to Create a Report in Salesforce

Last Modified: February 20, 2024 - 9 min read

Hannah Recker

As we navigate the era of information and business intelligence, understanding every potential use of report building becomes a strategic need, especially if you’re a marketing or sales team using Salesforce.

From the basics to advanced customization, this guide will equip you with the knowledge needed to transform raw data into strategic gold and the perfect solution to automate this hassle!

So, buckle up as we learn how to create reports in Salesforce Lightning!

PS. If you prefer video tutorials, we’ve got you! If not, keep scrolling for the written tutorial.

What is Salesforce Report Builder? 

Salesforce Report Builder is a dynamic tool designed to unravel the Salesforce data. It’s a digital detective, sifting through vast information to unveil valuable insights and guide your decision-making process. 

This tool operates within the Salesforce Classic and Lightning interface, providing an intuitive platform for crafting detailed reports without requiring intricate technical skills.

Capabilities of Salesforce Report Builder

Before we explain how to create reports in Salesforce Lightning, you need to know what features it offers

  • Effortless Report Creation: Simplifies the process of generating reports, allowing users to select relevant data fields and parameters effortlessly.
  • Data Filtering: The tool empowers users to filter data based on specific criteria, ensuring that reports present the information needed for insightful analysis.
  • Visual Representation: Its integration with charts and graphs transforms raw data into visually appealing representations, making it easier to identify trends and patterns.
  • Customization: Tailor your reports to your unique needs by customizing layouts, formatting, filters, and even incorporating conditional formatting to highlight critical data points.

Salesforce Classic vs. Lightning

While Salesforce Classic and Lightning share the same goal of providing reporting tools, there are notable differences in user interface and functionality.

  • User Interface: Salesforce Lightning boasts a modern and user-friendly interface, offering a more intuitive experience than the Classic version. Embracing a modern and sleek design, Salesforce Lightning offers visually optimized expertise, particularly on mobile devices.
  • Navigation: Lightning streamlines navigation with features like the App Launcher and dynamic page layouts, simplifying the user journey compared to the Classic version.
  • Customization: While Lightning has customization options, they are comparatively more streamlined than those in Salesforce Classic.
  • Reports and Dashboards: Lightning provides a focused set of reports and dashboards, offering essential analytics without overwhelming users
  • Other Advanced Features: Salesforce Lightning often introduces advanced features and enhancements that may not be available in the Classic version. These additions contribute to a more robust and flexible reporting experience.

Before Getting Started with Salesforce Report Builder 

Before diving straight into the creative process of building your report, ensure you have the following essentials in place:

  1. Pre-existing Report Types: Salesforce provides several options to choose from with standard report types that you can create, e.g., accounts, contacts with assets, opportunities, and more. However, you might need custom report types to fit your organization’s workflow and requirements.
  1. Access Permissions: Confirm that your Salesforce user profile has the necessary permissions to create and edit reports. This ensures a seamless experience without any access hurdles.
  1. Defined Object Relationships: Understand the relationships between Salesforce objects relevant to your report. Clear object relationships pave the way for comprehensive and interconnected data analysis.
  1. Data Availability: Verify that the data you intend to report is populated and up-to-date within Salesforce. Timely and accurate data is the bedrock of meaningful reports.

Step-by-Step Guide: How to Create Reports in Salesforce Lightning 

You’re all set with your data and Salesforce account in place. Now it’s time to get into report building, so make sure you follow through the steps:

Navigate to Report Builder

To get started with your journey, begin by navigating to the Salesforce Lightning interface. 

Once logged in to your Salesforce account, direct your attention to the taskbar ribbon on your dashboard. This is your gateway to several Salesforce application tabs and tasks. 

log into salesforce and access your dashboard

In the taskbar, directly select the “Reports” tab and navigate to ‘New Report’ to open the Report Builder.  

Accessing Salesforce Lightning's Report Builder

Choose a Report Type

As the next window opens, you must first choose the object you wish to create a report on – your report type.

Select the appropriate category, or navigate to ‘All’ and select the report type based on the data you wish to analyze. 

Selecting Report Type in Salesforce Lightning

Salesforce offers standard report types, including Tabular, Summary, Matrix, and Joined reports. Each type serves a unique purpose, so choose the one that aligns with your reporting needs. 

In our example, we will use ‘Accounts’ as our report type.

Once you’ve selected the report type, click ‘Start Report.’

Once you’ve selected the report type, click ‘Start Report.’

Add Fields to Your Report

Now, you’ll be redirected to the Fields pane. This is where you handpick the data fields you want to include in your report. This step allows you to customize your report to focus on specific information relevant to your analysis.

Start by selecting a date filter. You can choose from various options, from the current fiscal year to last week, or simply ‘All Time.’

Customizing Fields in Salesforce Report

After selecting your data’s time frame, Salesforce will automatically generate the report.

After selecting your data’s time frame, Salesforce will automatically generate the report.

Set Filters and Criteria

Refine your report by adding filters and criteria. Whether it’s narrowing down data based on specific dates, categories, columns, or other parameters, filters ensure your report delivers targeted insights.

You can also remove some columns to make the data more precise by navigating to the left sidebar and simply clicking on the ‘x’ mark to delete all columns from your report that match the criteria.

navigating to the left sidebar and simply clicking on the ‘x’ mark to delete all columns from your report that match the criteria.

You can also add columns not generated automatically by Salesforce from the search bar, e.g., created by date, created by (user), and other specific criteria to further add details to your report.

Group Data (Optional)

For a more organized view, consider grouping data based on specific fields. This step helps in creating a structured report that highlights trends and patterns. 

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In the ‘Group Rows’ section, type the word for whatever group you wish to sort for. For example, type “Industry” and your data will be grouped based on industries as shown below:

Grouping Data by Industry in Salesforce Report

Here, customers’ accounts have been grouped into different types of industries they were marked, e.g., apparel, construction, and consulting. For data that does not belong to any specific industry, you can see a ‘-.’ 

Important: You can only add data visualization to your reports if you have created data groups. If you don’t need any data groups or choose not to make any, Salesforce will disable the visualization option.

Add Charts and Filters

Enhance the visual appeal of your report by incorporating charts and graphs. Choose from various chart types to represent your data in a way that is easy to understand and visually impactful.

Also, refine your data set with filters by precisely adjusting ranges. For example, you can sort data based on creation date, publisher, and owner. When setting date filters, consider using dynamic options like “This Month” or “Last Quarter” for reports that require real-time relevance.

Click on the ‘Filters’ tab in the Fields sidebar and type your filter categories in the search bar. Select the right option from the drop-down menu.

Enhancing Report with Charts and Filters in Salesforce

Tips on Report Types in Salesforce: When to Use Them

  1. Tabular Reports: Ideal for simple lists with no subtotals, providing a straightforward data view.
  1. Summary Reports: Perfect for grouping data and displaying subtotals, offering a more organized and structured overview.
  1. Matrix Reports: Suited for complex data analysis with both row and column grouping, allowing for a comprehensive view of relationships.
  1. Joined Reports: Combining data from multiple report types into a single view provides a holistic perspective.

Customizing Reports 

Customizing reports goes beyond aesthetics. It’s about presenting data that resonates with your audience, facilitating better comprehension and decision-making. 

Here are some tips for making your reports more readable and informative:

  1. Consistent Formatting – Maintain consistency in formatting throughout your report. A uniform layout improves readability and makes navigating and understanding the information presented easier for users.
  1. Use Conditional Formatting Highlight crucial data points with conditional formatting. Whether color-coding cells based on specific criteria or adding icons for emphasis, this feature draws attention to critical insights.
  1. Strategic Use of White Space – Avoid clutter by strategically incorporating white space. Well-organized reports with balanced spacing create a clean and professional appearance, facilitating easier absorption of information.
  1. Choose Appropriate Chart Types – Select chart types that align with your data and analysis goals. Bar charts are effective for comparisons, while line charts are suitable for showcasing trends over time. Experiment with different options to find the most appropriate visualization for your insights.
  1. Include Descriptive Labels – Ensure clarity by providing descriptive labels for your fields and data points. Descriptive labels contribute to the overall understanding of the report, making it accessible to a broader audience.

Saving and Sharing Reports 

Once you’ve crafted the perfect report in Salesforce Report Builder, it’s essential to safeguard your hard work. 

Click on the “Save” button, and a dialogue box will prompt you to provide a meaningful name and description for your report. This helps you identify and recall the report later and contributes to organized data management within Salesforce.

You will also be directed to choose a folder to place your report in. Create a new folder or select an existing one. This is a crucial step before your report is saved!

Saving Options for Salesforce Report

Save and Sharing Options

Sharing your insights is as crucial as generating them. It’s important to note that you can only share folders that contain your reports rather than your complete dashboards. When you give access to other users, you will need to manage access limitations to ensure what reports the other user can edit, delete, or only view.

If you want other options to save, click the arrow next to ‘Edit’ and select other methods from the drop-down menu. 

Setting Sharing Options for Salesforce Report

You can save your report mainly as an Excel sheet as an alternative option.

Key Takeaway

Mastering Salesforce Report Builder opens a gateway to transformative insights, empowering users to navigate and analyze their data precisely. From crafting customized reports to seamlessly sharing them with stakeholders, the journey has been empowering and enlightening. 

However, the need for an automated and advanced approach to saving and sharing reports becomes evident in the ever-evolving data management landscape. 

So, elevate your data integration game with, revolutionize how you save track, and share your Salesforce reports.

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Hannah Recker Growth Marketer
Hannah Recker was a data-driven growth marketer before partying in the data became a thing. In her 12 years experience, she's become fascinated with the way data enablement amongst teams can truly make or break a business. This fascination drove her to taking a deep dive into the data industry over the past 4 years in her work at StreamSets and Coefficient.
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