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Design Essentials for Annual Reports


Annual ReportsAnnual reports are one of the most important strategic documents in a business’s arsenal, setting the vision, establishing values, identifying opportunities and laying the groundwork for the future direction of the business.

These days it’s important to get the design right to support both print and digital versions.

Since the core of your annual report is mostly steeped in data, it’s important to have a document that’s well presented through thoughtful design and layout. This is so you make it easier to comprehend and more importantly help you get to your point sooner.

Setting the Tone

The story must capture the audience’s attention right from the start, it needs to be clear and you need to paint a well-crafted picture of the future. This includes having a singular and united voice that resonates with your most important audience.


Your annual report needs to reflect your business branding by presenting your data and main points in the best possible light. Ensuring your document is on brand with the correct colours, logos and typeface will set the professional standard of your document and provide a great first impression.


If you’re looking to really knock the socks off your audience and make a powerful statement around your ideas or vision, then select a relevant theme. This allows you to leverage your most important insights by helping convey the key ideas in a much more interesting and receptive way.


By breaking up the page into columns, you can simply allocate images, text or graphics to various sections within the page. And don’t be afraid of white space – it allows your audience time to pause, take a breath and soak up what you’re telling them.

Headings and Subheadings

Using headings and subheadings is common practice in breaking up content and improving readability. Next, the description and paragraph copy is included using different fonts, sizes and colours. Presenting content in this way anchors the reader’s eye with one focal point and allows them to be effortlessly guided through the information no matter how complicated. 


Typography helps connect the dots throughout the theme and can evoke much needed emotion from your audience. Clear typography at the correct size enhances each reader’s ability to comprehend the information. The key here is to ensure the fonts complement each other nicely so that it can continue to tell your story. 


A picture tells a thousand words still rings true in the design of annual reports. Compelling imagery offers a simple and powerful way to tell your story. Selecting images which support your ideas or themes can add humour, inject colour and provide a talking point.  In this digital age, you can even turn key elements of your online version into an infographic or a video.


Colour actually lifts people’s mood and invites more engagement and interest to the document. Just remember, colours evoke different emotions and the palette you select needs to complement your theme, idea and brand.

Thoughtful design goes a long way in helping your reader comprehend the company’s most important communications document. By establishing a theme, injecting your brand personality, adding a splash of colour and including compelling images you will instantly add clarity around your ideas and breathe new life into your annual report. 


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