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Parts of an Annual Report

How many of these elements does your annual report design have?

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Annual Reports

Annual Reports

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The most creative aspects on an annual report, for a designer, are the cover and narrative sections. But the financial section should also continue the same visual theme — and it's often the most critical part of the report in the eyes of stockholders, investors, and financial analysts. For publically traded companies and non-profit organizations some elements are required such as Auditor's report and financial statements.

While the company or organization supplies the content, the designer (in collaboration with the client) is responsible for arranging the content and creating an attractive, readable annual report. As with other types of multipage documents, the page composition of an annual report may incorporate some or all of the five types of visual signposts: artwork, titles, paragraph emphasis, character emphasis, and explicit navigation elements.

  1. Cover
    The cover design should reflect the company image. It might incorporate corporate colors and logo. It may include images suggestive of the past year (new product introductions, for example). As a minimum the cover should usually contain basic indentifying information:
    • Name of Company or Organization
    • Year of the Annual Report
    • Date of Annual Report


  2. Narrative Statements
    The narrative section may have many sub-sections. These might include any of these:
    1. Looking Back / Overview
      • Mission Statement/Corporate Message
      • Letter to Stockholders
      • History of Company or Organization
      • Services / Product Lines (Sales & Marketing)
      • Management Report
      • 5-10 Year Financial Summary
    2. Performance / Year in Review
      • Significant Events
      • Analysis / Significant Trends
      • Testimonials
      • New Products
      • New Services
      • New Patents/Research
      • Stock Analysis
    3. Looking Forward
      • Immediate Future Plans
      • Longterm Plans
      • New Initiatives
      • Imminent New Products / Services
    4. Photos/Illustrations
      Any or all sections may include appropriate photographs or illustrations. These may be photographs of buildings inside and outside, pictures of people including company executives, employees, and customers, products in development or in use, events, logos, symbols or icons, sketches or drawings of products, or images that illustrate key services.


  3. Financial Statements
    The financial statements are the raw data upon which much of the narratives are based.
    • Income Statement
    • Balance Sheet
    • Cash Flow Statement
    • Auditor's Report
    • Graphs and Charts


  4. Appendices and References
    Any supporting documents not included in the narrative or financial sections including stockholder information (next annual meeting, general stock info), list of directors and officers, list of offices/divisions with addresses, list of brands, affiliates, subsidiaries would be included after the financial statements. For certain industries, a glossary of terms may be a good addition to the annual report — helpful to those stockholders and investors not intimately familiar with the jargon.

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