How to nail your annual report like a seasoned pro (read more)

10 Tips for planning an awesome annual report


Managing an annual report can sometimes feel like a mammoth task. These top tips from Brisbane design agency, Map Creative will set you on the right track so you can nail it like a pro.


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1. Present the future  

By its nature, an annual report is retrospective, but ultimately the document should communicate an optimistic view of an organisation that is looking to the future. You may not need to say this literally – a stunning annual report design will present a business that practices excellence and is going places. 

2. Appoint an editor to ensure the document has one voice 

With annual report writing, consistency is key. It is likely that the text for your annual report will contain contributions from several different departments in your organisation. Having numerous writing styles, inconsistent terminology and off-brand messaging will appear unprofessional. Having an experienced editor manage the overall editing of the document will ensure that there is one consistent, on-brand voice maintained throughout. At Map Creative we have editors and copywriters who specialise in corporate writing to ensure we nail the terminology and tone of voice for our clients. 

3. Use infographics to summarise large chunks of information 

Annual reports by nature tend to be very text heavy, so it’s important that you present large chunks of facts and figures in a clear and concise manner. A great way to do this is by using infographics. When executed well, infographics will become a highly engaging feature of your annual report’s design and highlight the key take-outs that your organisation needs to communicate.

4. Do not compromise design

Nothing says amateur quite an annual report designed in Microsoft Word! This is a celebration of your organisation’s hard work and achievements – now is the time to use professional designers and put your best foot forward. It’s essential to produce a product that both you and your colleagues are proud to stand behind and that stakeholders are happy to be a part of. At Map Creative we design documents that are highly engaging and enjoyable to read – anything less is damaging to your brand.

5. Use professional photography 

They say a picture speaks a thousand words, so guess what a shit picture says about your organisation?! The best annual report designs feature inspiring, high resolution, professional photography. If you do not have professional photography available, talk to your designer about a different approach. 

6. Make it easy to navigate 

Your document will be reviewed by numerous stakeholders including investors, government industry specialists, staff and perhaps even the general public. It’s unlikely it will be read in order from front to back, with readers instead opting to review specific parts of the document based on what's most important to them. The best annual report designs ensure the document is quick and easy to navigate – for example, using colour to demarcate different sections (like colouring an environment section in green) provides a clear visual cue to the reader.

7. Proof reading. The difference between knowing your shit and knowing you’re shit.

If you have had your head in your annual report writing for weeks, you may find that it has become hard to see the wood for the trees. Having a professional proofreader give your document a final check before going to print will, we guarantee you, reveal some typo’s and inconsistencies that need addressing. At Map Creative we have proofreaders who specialise in corporate communications. 

8. Print or digital?

Annual reports are typically produced in print, as a downloadable pdf or as a web-based online experience. The answer you need to know is, how do your readers want to consume your annual report information? In some sectors such as government, a printed annual report is a requirement and exporting an additional downloadable pdf is a piece of cake. On the other hand, if your organisation is all about tech, than an online approach may be better.

9. Amendment$ 

When finalising the copy in your annual report writing, ensure that it has been escalated up the chain (as a Word document) and signed off by the CEO before commencing design. This will reduce endless rounds of changes and ultimately save you time and money.

10. Schedule in a one week buffer

Even with the best planning and intentions of having copy approved prior to design, late amendments from Executive teams still always happen. Build in an extra week buffer to allow for these amendments and you’ll still deliver on time and look like a superstar.


Map Creative is a design agency with 20 years experience in publishing.

Drop us a line or call us to arrange a free consultation for your next project.