It’s that time of the year again. The activities and events of the previous year are still fresh in your mind, the direction for the new year is finalised and in execution, and your financial year end is around the corner. Designing and printing an annual report is not something most people look forward to.

Traditionally annual reports are technical documents that contain detail on your company’s activities and financial performance for the financial year. Perceived more as a regulatory requirement than promotional material, they may often materialise as bland reading often created to be seen and not read.

That does not have to be the case. That’s because as we have just launched PUR Bound Booklets online at our well known affordable prices. That means more budget available for you to get a stellar design that can create an annual report that has:

  1. Data and information that is easy to consume and internalise.
  2. A rich format that tells the story of your company and people.
  3. A platform to maximise the impact of your brand.

While the audience for these reports is shareholders and other stakeholders who have a keen interest in the companies financials, there’s no reason why they can’t be created to delight this intended audience, and to appeal to a wider audience such as, clients, staff and suppliers.

Just have a look at some of the inspirational designs here!

With that in mind, let’s unpack some key considerations that can give your annual report an added impact.

Make the data easier to interpret

Make the data easier to interpret

Making Your Data Easier to Interpret – 2 Tools You Didn’t Know You Needed

Annual reports have a lot of financial data that will mostly be in the form of tables, standard line graphs, or bar graphs. These are usually accompanied by a paragraph or two to explain the data. However, there are some tools at your disposal that will help readers to visualise this data and make it easier to digest.

Tool number 1: Easy to digest graphs and charts

A well-designed graph gives you all the information you need at a glance. To achieve this you should use descriptive captions which give the reader a good idea of what the graph is outlining without having to rely on the x-axis and y-axis labels. There is no need to make the captions short, err on the side of making them too long.

You should also add context to your data by using annotations such as trendlines. A graph of monthly sales for the year with an annotation showing what the monthly target is is far more informative than just the monthly sales figures.

Additionally, if you do not have to arrange the information chronologically, then arranging the data in an order from highest to lowest will make it easier to get the point at a glance. For example, arranging the graphs of sales per product in order from highest to lowest will give an immediate impression of which product had the most sales.

Lastly, make your graphs look as clean as possible. This usually involves limiting your colour palette to just one colour with different shades of the colour. Also, If you have a lot of long labels, then try slanting them. This can create a more visually appealing appearance.

The same applies to your tables and some illustrations.

Tool number 2: Infographics

Infographics let you summarise complex ideas or long stories (such as your companies history) into a simple visual form. Here are a few pointers for creating your infographic:

  1. Keep it simple – Think of the main message you want to communicate with the infographic and focus solely on that.
  2. It should not be small icons accompanied by long copy – the visuals should always outweigh the text.
  3. Repurpose it – you now have an appealing visual that can be used in other mediums to deliver the same message.
  4. Use the whole page – this is a high-impact visual, give it enough space to achieve that impact.
  5. Use white space – use enough blank space to give your visuals enough room to be noticed.
  6. Give it a logical flow – the infographic should tell a story from top to bottom and/or side to side, but it does not necessarily have to be linear.
Tell a story

Tell a story

Tell Your Company’s Story – And Make it Shine!

What is the story that you want to tell?
How did you achieve the performance?
What are the principles your people adhere to that allow your company to achieve what it has done?
What does the future look like and what can stakeholders expect going forward?

The story of your culture is the answer to the above questions. This story gives stakeholders an idea of how your people think, act and make decisions from the executive level down to the junior employee. It tells the reader how you think about costs, how you approach innovation, how you solve problems and what your priorities are. This is not only useful for your shareholders, but also a useful reminder for existing employees and an induction tool for new employees.

This is where you can use an infographic about your company’s story alongside the CEOs and/or Chairpersons note.

Represent your brand at its All Time Best

The potential reach of the report and the longevity of its existence makes it almost as important as your brand CI. Here are a few things to bear in mind.

Typography

Use typographic hierarchy to give a clear sense of the structure of a page (primary headings and subheadings) and pay attention to the fonts in your brand CI.

Use vertical spacing to make your words easier to scan. This is the line spacing between sentences and the spacing between paragraphs. Focus on giving enough space so the reader’s eye and brain can more easily decipher characters, words, and word shapes.

Adjust the measure to make each line of text more comfortable to read. This is the length of a line of text. Long lines don’t look pleasant to read, but shorter lines are more welcoming. The ideal number of characters per line is 65–75. Use the width of the body text rather than headings or sub-headings to define this length.

A great,  yet unconventional, idea is to use wide margins that provide readers with space for taking notes. Space creates that room that makes the report easier to read.

[Related: Is your typography print ready?]

 

Your brand at its best

Your brand at its best

 

Think Like a Pro Journalist

While your report is created for people who are familiar with your industry, it will also be read by people who are not familiar with the technicalities and nuances of the industry. Therefore, representing your information in a form that all can understand will increase the impact of your report.

One technique used by journalists is chunking. Break down long technical concepts into subheadings that clearly explain one or a few components of the concept.

Also, take advantage of double-page spreads to connect related concepts or sections. Especially when one section references something, an illustration for example, from a previous section.

It is important to think of your information architecture before going to print.

Think like a reader

Think like a reader

Think Like a Reader

Most readers will not read your report from front to back and line by line. They will skim. Therefore think about giving people enough of the necessary information so that they get a decent picture in a limited amount of time.

The way to achieve this is to focus on the first few pages in the front and the last few in the back. I.e. The introduction and the conclusion. The middle will have all the standard tables, statements and traditional reports. The front and back pages, therefore, give you space to creatively deliver the story of your company.

That is all for tips on design, here is a quick description of what PUR Binding means:

PUR binding is a softcover bookbinding method that uses a Polyurethane Reactive (PUR) adhesive to glue the cover and pages together resulting in a neat, flat spine and clean edges.

The main benefits of PUR binding are:

  1. The spine won’t crack when the book is opened wide or pressed flat.
  2. It is nearly impossible for a human to pull a page clean out of the book. Even for books with many pages.
  3. It adheres to a variety of substrates, which means matt or gloss lamination is not a problem.
  4. The mind maintains its integrity in extreme hot or cold conditions.

Therefore PUR binding gives your booklets lasting durability and high quality.

Now that you know what type of booklet to print your annual report on, let’s discuss how to print your annual report.

Other booklet types that PUR binding is great for are:

  • Fine Art books
  • Photo books
  • Storybooks
  • Yearbooks
  • Proposals

You can get an instant quote and order your PUR Bind books here.

Conclusion

PUR Bind books are great for printing annual reports. The affordability of these books gives you extra budget to design a book that is easy to read, unpacks the story of your company and maximises the impact of your brand. By focusing your design on these principles, you can maximise the impact of your annual report.

Other resources:

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  3. A quick guide to professional writing
  4. Is your typography print ready?
  5. Your Complete Business Stationery List (Checklist: Do You Have What You Need?)

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