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Annual Reports deserve to look good too

by | Marketing, Services, Technical

Annual Reports deserve to look good too

When you think of an annual report, what springs to mind? A dull, flat, uninspiring brochure, that’s cumbersome and hard to read? You wouldn’t be alone.

At Print4UK, we work hard to create annual reports that do more than just contain the information that’s so vital to the shareholders, potential shareholders and other interested parties that are going to read it. We make sure they look good to.

Given the number of annual reports we’ve helped design, we’ve come to learn that whilst there’s a certain formula that works, there’s lots that a good design, careful editing and some well-positioned headlines can do, to help turn your annual report from a snooze-fest into an engaging, invaluable read.

We live in a time poor society. And whilst much dry information needs to be included in an annual report (although great design can lift even the lengthiest of profit and loss accounts), you need to think about what your audience needs to know. Less is often more, so put yourself in their shoes and think what critical information is needed and what is nice-to-have. Be firm.

Here are our top tips that can bring your annual report to life:

The Executive Summary is King

Try and get all the key information in the front few pages. It’s what most people read before skipping to the financials. An annual report cannot misrepresent the financial status of the business, but it can highlight the positives. Keep this upfront. Shout about your successes and good results. You want to reassure current shareholders, appeal to new ones, and build confidence in other parties who are reviewing your documentation for broader business purposes.

Don’t be afraid of a good chart and graph

We all know the financial information needs to be in there. Yet not everyone reading your annual report will be an accountant. Use easy to digest charts and graphs to highlight vital information.

 

Use infographics

We love an infographic. They stand out, are easy to absorb (and even better for recall) and are interesting to look at.

Embrace white space

Have you ever tried to look at a document or website, where the information is so crammed in you don’t know where to look first? Exactly. It feels claustrophobic. Give your annual report plenty of room to breathe (even it adds on another 12 pages). Your reader will thank you for it.

Break your copy-heavy text into headings and subheadings

Introducing headings and subheads, allows a reader to select the core information they seek. Anything that makes it easier to absorb, will only make for a  happy reader.

Avoid jargon and acronyms

Don’t assume your audience knows your business as well as you do. Spell it out.

Less is more

Yes, we know we’ve mentioned this before but it deserves a separate heading all on its own. Annual reports that are 200-300 pages are often filed under B.I.N. Yet if your financial and legal departments on insisting on inserting lots of information (for whatever reason), you need to head back to our first point and make sure your Executive Summary is pretty darn amazing.

And what about the finish?

There is no point in creating a comprehensive, well written, easy-to-read, stylish and engaging annual report if you’re then going to print it what might as well be toilet paper. The type of paper you choose, the finishes you add (special colours, textures, laminations), all go to creating the right impression. You know when people say never judge a book by its cover? Well, people do. If it looks cheap, it’s not exactly inviting, is it?

And that, as they say, is that. To us, it’s easy. After all, we do this for a living. Yet if any of what we’ve written about is your idea of sheer and utter hell, you know where we are. ‘Cos we love it!

About the author

Lewis Burgess

Digital Marketing Assistant

As Digital Marketing Assistant at Print4UK, Lewis helps with all aspects of digital marketing – from social media, to web design and from email campaigns to PPC. Being social media savvy Lewis settled into the role with ease. He is looking forward to making a real impact on what goes on at Print4UK, by taking their digital marketing to the next level.

lewis.burgess@print4uk.com

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