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The Foolproof Formula For Creating Amazing Report Design

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Puneet Chauhan
The Foolproof Formula For Creating Amazing Report Design

Reports are essential to any company, as they provide the audience with information about its performance. 

A report is the summation of research and decisions that impact how a company needs to perform in the future to see improved success. 

Reports are not created for a particular group of people. Depending on the type of report, the audience changes. For example, internal reports can be targeted at employees and other personnel. On the other hand, annual reports or marketing reports have a number of varied audiences from investors, board of directors, and also customers. 

Since any type of report is essential for future decision-making, you need to ensure that your report design is impressive. Visually appealing reports make the audience want to read them. An excellent report design can decide the tone of any meeting.  

Ultimately, designing an engaging report is to ensure that the audience can go through the given information and understand it easily.

To create your report, you may have put in hours of work to compile data from various sources. You may have put in tons of effort to assemble all relevant data into readable content.

However, including all the information into your report is impossible. You need to be brief and only include relevant information to your audience. 

Simply filling up your report with data does not make it appealing. But, on the other hand, if you create an uninteresting and unappealing report, all the time and effort you put into researching and compiling has gone to waste. 

  • Reports tend to be boring unless you are personally invested in understanding every part of them. Creating an appealing readable report will ensure that the audience is engaged with the information that has been provided. 
  • Incorporating design elements makes sure that your report is readable and keeps your audience's attention on the report. Report design is a way to make sure that anyone can read your reports and find them informative. 
  • A report containing the right mix of text, images and other mediums will elevate an otherwise dull report and make it more appealing. According to MIT scientists, it has been found that the brain can identify images as fast as 13 milliseconds. This means that images are the first things the eyes identify rather than words. Visual elements keep your audience engaged.
  • Not everyone is interested in reading entire reports. Each section of your report needs to be considered separately. Your audience wants to see information that pertains to their interest. A good design can help you summarize each point and help highlight relevant sections for your audience. For example, an investor wants to see a company's financial performance. If the financial analysis section is highlighted, the investor can quickly go to that section and get all the relevant information from the report. 

There are many guidelines available on the web that you can integrate into your design plan. For example, the Gestalt Principles of design lay down principles that can help you design great reports. While you may not use all these principles, studying them can help you visualize your reports and formulate ways to simplify information.

While creating a report, it is essential to understand who your audience is. You must consider what information needs to be included in the report and how you can present it for easy understanding. 

1. Be Clear About Your Audience

Before creating your report, you need to be sure about your audience. Identifying who will receive your report can help set the tone for the information flow. For example, an annual report is read by multiple stakeholders, which includes your current and future investors, your board of directors, your future employees, as well as your customer. Therefore, the annual report needs a professional look and approach, even if your brand is playful and fun. sOn the other hand, if you are writing an internal report that is only for your employees, you can incorporate the fun elements of your brand to make the report more engaging. 

2. Bring Attention To The Title

First impressions matter, and your title is the first thing people notice in any report. Accordingly, the title should be mentioned clearly on the report's first page and the cover page. When creating a digital copy or a presentation, the first slide or page needs to hold the tile of the report. The font, size, and colour need to match the report's overall tone. You can also include a line below the title, briefly mentioning what the report entails. This ensures that your audience gets a quick idea about what the report holds. 

3. Visualize Your Report

Before creating your report, you need to have an idea of how you want your report to look. You want to think about how your report needs to be split for maximum comprehension of information. Make sure that you envision a clear flow for your report. For example, The first page needs a table of contents, followed by a short note from the CEO or founder. This can be followed by other sections depending on their hierarchy of importance. This allows the audience to go to the sections that pertain to their interests quickly.

4. Decide On A Style Guide 

A style guide is essential to standardize writing and design styles across all communication in an organisation. Having a helpful guide makes sure you don't spend too much time deciding on fonts, colours and other styling elements while creating a report. Not only for reports but a style guide is also helpful in creating content across all channels. Following a consistent style makes sure your audience experience a smooth report and can assimilate information correctly. 

5. Incorporate Storytelling

Every company has a story, and telling that story is a great way to keep your audience engaged. It is also a way to influence your audience's decision-making bhaviour subtly. For example, if your report aims to get more investors, you would want to highlight how the company raised funds earlier and how any new capital will be utilized for business progress. Here, videos or graphic imagery can add a fun aspect to your report. 

Abstract Shapes

6. Use Judicious Use Of Subheads and Bullet Points

Any report with long lines of text ad huge paragraphs will make your audience sleep. You need to ensure that the readers can comprehend the information provided in the reports. This can be done by breaking the information into bullet points. You can also use subheads to create a transparent information chain from one point to the next. Use larger font sizes to bring attention to each subhead. This helps in establishing the hierarchy of information in terms of its importance. 

7. Utilize White Space 

White space in a report is essential to the attention of the written content. If there is too much white space on a page, it appears empty. If there is too little white space, your page looks cramped with too much information. You need a good balance between text, images and white space. Using bullet points and subheads also allows you to create comfortable space between each point and help the information assimilate accurately. 

8. Make It Interactive

The emergence of digital reports has given a chance to make even serious reports more interactive. For example, a digital report can be embedded with a video clip of the CEO welcoming the audience. You can also have an overarching audio file explaining each report section to the audience. If the organization has undertaken a new venture during the year that has given the company a positive boost, a small video can help bring it to the forefront of the audience's mind. Interactive reports also make it easier to streamline information flow. You can use drop-down menus and links that can help drill down information based on audience requirements. 

Abstract Art

9. Use Simple Language

The use of complex industry jargon makes any report challenging to understand. You need to use simple language so that anyone can understand the information you give in your report. Using complex industry-specific words would create confusion and lead to miscommunication. In addition, you do not want your audience to spend time interpreting what you are trying today. This might take away interest from the report and lead to your audience losing interest in the report. 

10. Use Images, Charts and Graphs

More than words, eyes often linger on images and other visual elements. People tend to process information embedded in images more than text. Use charts ad graphs to present information to your audience concisely. Infographics are also a great way to simplify complex data points. In fact, using infographics with relevant images, you can explain how your organization works or how a particular process is done. 

Visual input can also help you summarize sections in your report to make it skimmable in case your audience is short on time and wants to understand information quickly. For example, an organisation has undertaken an initiative for environmental sustainability. You can use infographics to explain how the initiative came about, what decisions have been made regarding sustainability and what has been the impact, financial or otherwise, of these decisions. 

11. Use Brand Identity

A brand identity is an essential component of your business that makes you identifiable from among your competitors in the market. Creating a brand identity is an ongoing process that requires consistent efforts. Brand identity includes all visual elements like logo, font, colors, design, and any image that can help it be distinguished in the industry. The style guide mentioned above can include all your brand elements. You must ensure that all your written or visual communication includes elements of your brand identity. Make sure you use your logo or tagline on every page of your report or embed them in every slide of your presentation. 

In short, a good design for your report should include these few elements to make it readable and appealing. 

  • Use fonts, font sizes, and colors to align with your brand. Also, ensure you use simple language to convey your point to your audience. 
  • Use bullet points and subheads to create white space naturally. This makes your report easier to read and helps in readability and flow. 
  • Make sure there is an appropriate number of images and other visual elements like graphs and charts to make your report more interactive. Proper visual elements also help simplify complex data.
  • Do not stuff your information on one page. Split it into as many pages as possible to make it easier to read. 

An additional tip is to proofread your entire report to make sure that there is no break in the information flow. The visual elements and highlights that you use need to add value and emphasize the relevant information in your report. Before you send the report to your audience, always double-check that all the elements in the report, including the information, are brief and concise without being too dull or monotone. 

Examples of Amazing Report Design

Now that you have an idea of the elements needed to create a fantastic report, here are a few examples to understand the importance of effective report design. 

WeTransfer is an information-sharing platform where you can share information with others through easy sharing methods. The 2021 Ideas report is an introduction highlighting the actual report's essential elements. Each section of the report uses font sizes and transition elements to highlight the main point. The gradient use of color also allows for easy readability of the report. The last section includes an option to download the full report for people who want a more in-depth look at the organisation's processes. 

Mailchimp is one of the premier email marketing platforms currently in the market. Rather than a static presentation of slides and images, the annual report is a colorful cartoon journey that takes the viewers through each section with an animated character as a guide. The critical elements of the report are visible as you scroll through each section. The use of cartoon imagery brings a nostalgic and fun element while still holding a professional outlook.  

Arup is a company focused on global sustainable development. Their annual report for 2021 is an interactive maze that incorporates video clips and sound bytes to personalize the report to the audience. Rather than dry data, the digital report includes sounds from daily life to provide a rich auditory experience as you go through the report. 

Save Your Time and Let Us Design For You

An excellent report design is one that is clear and concise, and easy for your audience to understand. Your report needs to be information-heavy but, at the same time, needs to have aesthetic appeal. Whether it is a marketing report, budget report or even an annual report, every part of the report needs to have maximum impact. 

It is a sound practice to create reports to document ideas, strategies or even critical achievements. Having physical reports allows you to look back and understand why decisions were taken and how they impacted business outlooks. It also helps in future decision-making that can help in business growth. 

At INK PPT, our team of design experts can help you collate your raw data and create reports that are easily understood by your audience. In addition, our designers can create reports that incorporate your brand identity and corporate culture into reports to make you stand out from the crowd. 

Contact us and leave a short message letting us know how we can help you craft dynamic reports that engage your audience with amazing visuals and accurate information. 

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About the Author

Puneet Chauhan - Unleashing the Magic of Words

With a solid foundation in business education, I'm the team's trusted magician when it comes to weaving the spell of effective communication. Whether it's navigating deadlines or unraveling the occasional goof-up, I've got it covered.

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