A great annual report layout design can really help take your content further. The best annual report design layouts are both visually interesting and easy to navigate.
What Makes a Great Annual Report Layout Design?
Design can often seem limitless. There's so many things we could do with a layout design. You could push towards a modern aesthetic or a minimalist aesthetic. You could do something traditional or something unexpected.
It's easy to get so wrapped up in aesthetics that we forget that design does have a method. It's not all about looks, and it's certainly not something left to luck.
Instead, we've got formulas we can use to create a good annual report design time and time again: the Principles of Design. Think of them like the building blocks of any design, regardless of the type.
Let's take a closer look at the Principles of Design. Learn how you can apply them in your annual report design process. Use these as important annual report design tips whether you're building a design from scratch or working with a template:
In design, think about hierarchy as a visual system of importance. If all the information on the page was the same—like the same size and the same color—nothing would stand out.
For example, it would be hard to tell the title from the body copy if they were both the same size, same color, and same font. Differentiating between the two helps establish that one has visual importance over the other. It means that we're supposed to read the title first.
Check out the annual report design layout above. In this case, the headline "How We Work" is at the top of the composition and it's larger than the body copy. Some parts of the body copy are bolder and larger. This makes them more predominant than many of the smaller snippets of body copy. This is an example of Hierarchy at work.
Repetition might sound boring, but it's actually a really important Principle of Design. When something repeats, it starts to blend in. We stop noticing the singular, and the repetitive trait becomes more of a continuous observation.
Think about this visually. Something like a repeated header doesn't command our attention. Instead, it becomes an ambient part of the composition.
Look at the annual report design above. Notice that there's a running header across the top of most pages. It's small and supplemental, but it's also consistent.
So, the running header isn't a stand out element—but it's a consistent wayfinding element that the user can rely on. This means finding things like page numbers will be easy. A few pages in and our eyes would know exactly where to look.
In some regards, Variety is the opposite of Repetition. Instead of repeating, Variety is all about mixing things up to create interest.
This balance between Variety and Repetition is important. One is designed to take a supplemental role. The other is designed to stand out and command attention.
If everything blended in, looked the same, and was repetitive, the composition would be boring.
If everything were wildly different, we'd risk a chaotic composition where there's no consistency.
Take a look at this design example above. We've got some repeating elements here, like the yellow bar at the bottom. This helps make the pages look related. But we also have varied elements that break up the designs and keep the pages interesting. They share similarities, but they've got their own unique differences too.
When we're talking about value—lightness and darkness—we're often referring to Contrast. To explain, let's take a look at the sample design above.
The word "Annual" has high Contrast here. Notice how it really stands out against the white background. That's because this navy blue is a dark value. When you've got a dark value against a light value, the result has a lot of Contrast. This makes it stand out.
"Report" blends in a lot more with the background. Why is that? Well, it's low Contrast. This is because its value is closer to that of the background color.
The more contrast a design element has, the more it typically stands out and commands attention.
Balance often refers to weight in a composition. For example, a layout can have symmetrical or asymmetrical balance. We can use this to our advantage to help lead our viewer's eyes through the composition.
In the above design example, where do you see the bulk of the "weight" in this composition? Notice how we've got dark color and a high concentration of type at the bottom. It's pretty "heavy" down there. The upper part of the composition has a lot of open, negative space.
This arrangement puts a lot of emphasis down on the bottom of the page.
Proportion refers to two different things. The first is scale, or how big or small something is in your composition. So, for example, the "45%" in this composition is rather large.
Proximity plays a large role in Proportion. The "45%" wouldn't feel large if it wasn't set next to smaller design elements. Proximity isn't simply scale. It's also distance and ratio.
The important take away here is that the size of your design elements matters, and it matters in relationship to the rest of the design.
Emphasis is one of the most complicated Principles of Design, because it needs the other principles to exist. Think of Emphasis as your focal point. We create Emphasis by using the other Principles of Design effectively.
Emphasis is created by Variety. Remember, we already discussed that things that repeat tend to not be very noticeable. Things that are low in contrast also don't stand out.
Take a look at the example design above. Where's the first place your eyes go, when you look at this layout design? Chances are "Our Services" is one of the first places you look. Let's look at why:
- The font itself is large and at the top of the layout. That's Proportion in action.
- This type is also rather dark on a light background. The Contrast is high, which makes it stand out.
- Several parts of the design here are quite uniformed. This type is not. Because it's different, it stands out.
Similarly, the imagery on the right also has some Emphasis, to a degree. Hierarchy isn't all or nothing. You can have levels of visual importance.
Finally, let's talk about Movement. Whether we realize it or not, our eyes navigate through the page when we read or observe a layout design. As designers, we've got the ability to influence this navigation.
We can imply Movement in many ways. In the design example above, we've got a literal line guiding us through a timeline. It implies movement across the page, from left to right.
Think of other things that might apply to your target audience too. For example, what direction would feel most natural for reading in the applicable language? We can play into these preconceived preferences.
Find the Best Annual Report Design Templates on Envato Elements
A lot goes into a great design, right? There are so many different things we can consider.
This is one reason why starting off with a professionally designed annual report layout design template can be really handy. It can help jump start your design process, as these templates are fully customizable. Or, if you're in a rush, use a template to finish your project in a snap. Understanding some design theory can help you choose just the right template.
The problem is: professional design assets can be really pricey.
This is why Envato Elements is worth checking out. For one, low fee, you get access to a whole library of professional design assets. This includes hundreds of annual report design templates that you can download, all without any extra charges.
That's the beauty of unlimited downloads. If you're a creative professional and you regularly find yourself needing assets to complete your projects, this can add up quickly. On Envato Elements, download fonts, stock photos, graphics, templates, mockups, and more, all without worrying about the cost adding up. It's a great bargain.
Let's look at a few of the inspiring annual report design templates over on Envato Elements that you can download today:
Isn't this design stylish? There's a lot of fun geometry on the cover and throughout the layout designs too. Swap images, change the colors, and fully customize this template in any way you like.
Here's another stylish annual report layout design template. It includes 28 different pages that you can mix, match, and remix to your heart's content. Choose from two different dimensions too.
If you like a clean, sleek aesthetic, give this template a look. There are ten pages included, but remember, you can duplicate, move, and change these pages in any way you like. It could be the perfect fit for many different projects.
Check Out the Best Annual Report Design Templates on GraphicRiver
But maybe you don't need or want unlimited downloads. If you prefer single, one time downloads, look at GraphicRiver. It's another impressive collection of professional assets, make and published by designers from all over the world.
With GraphicRiver, keep things simple and straightforward. One download, one price, and that's that. It's a perfect choice if you don't necessarily need a library of assets. If you know what you're looking for and you only want to download a hand full of assets, check out GraphicRiver.
How to Use Annual Report Layout Design Ideas to Inspire Your Work
Let's take some of the annual report design tips we discussed earlier and expand on them in a practical example.
We'll use this annual report layout design as an example. It's an Adobe InDesign template. We'll open it in the software to make some adjustments to the layout design.
Download it and work along with the walkthrough if you'd like to follow along with the annual report design process. Otherwise, you're welcome to use any design you prefer. These concepts will transfer.
Let's get started:
1. Consider the Flow of Your Layout
Think about where your eyes move in the composition. We discussed Movement—it doesn't always have to be as blatant as a drawn line.
For example, in this case, many would likely start on the left. There's two columns here. This flows differently than the layout on the right, which only has one column.
Notice how the different columns influences the flow of the layout on each page.
In this case, we're in Adobe InDesign. Open up your Pages panel by going to Window > Pages. Then, freely navigate through your layouts.
2. What Parts of Your Layout Should Be a Supplement?
Remember, your design should have supplementary elements. Some things should stand out and other things should play a lesser role.
For example, the body copy is often best set at a smaller size that things like headlines and subheaders. We see this in action, in this composition. We can also use color in this way too.
To change the color of your text in InDesign, turn to your Tools panel. Click on the small "T" under the Stroke and Fill Color to activate " Formatting affects Text". Then, with your text selected, click on the Fill Color to choose a new color for your text.
3. Where Can You Use Variety to Promote Emphasis?
Remember, having a focal point is important. In this example, one of the two page spreads has been simplified.
Notice how we can create Emphasis by making the word "Welcome" larger than the rest of the design elements on the page. It's also a vibrant color that stands out and the font choice is different. These are all things that vary from the rest of the composition. That's what gives it so much Emphasis.
In Adobe InDesign, use the Type tool to edit your text. Change its size, the font, and other attributes with the Characters panel. Open it up by going to Window > Type & Tables > Character.
4. Is It Easy to Navigate Your Layout Designs?
Make sure it's easy to read and find content in your layout. Are the columns aligned in a way that's uniform and makes for a comfortable reading experience? Do visual additions to the layout complement or compete?
It's easy to get excited about design, but a successful design is about both form and function. If it looks pretty but it doesn't work well, then the design isn't a success. Take some time to test out your design, and don't be afraid to ask others to preview your work too.
Delete unwanted design elements in Adobe InDesign by selecting them with your Selection tool, and then pressing Backspace on your keyboard.
5. Does Your Layout Have Enough Breathing Room?
In this example, the layout has been edited to make room for more negative space. The term "negative space" refers to "empty" parts of the composition.
Think of it like any other space. We need room to breathe! You wouldn't want to pack your home from wall to wall. Your layout design is similar. This extra space can prove to be just as strong of an addition as any other part of your composition.
To resize elements in Adobe InDesign, select them with the Selection tool. Then, use the visible resize handles to click and drag and resize. This is especially useful for frames with a Fill Color, like in the example below.
3 Quick Annual Report Design Tips and Tricks
The more you practice working with design principles, the more natural it'll feel to use them in your design work. But there are some general tips and tricks of the trade you can keep up your sleeve for quick and effective results:
1. Less Is Often More
Good annual report design isn't about quantity. Avoid packing your layout designs with too much content. Instead, focus on things like organization, emphasis, and hierarchy. Too many extras makes for a chaotic layout, not an impressive one.
2. Stick to One to Two Fonts
This is another case of less is more. Choose one to two fonts and stick with them throughout your annual report layout design. Too much variation runs the risk of becoming disjointed. Instead of using a large quantity of fonts, try using things like Proportion and Scale to add more Variety to your type.
3. Be True to Your Branding
Don't forget about your professional brand. If you already have a logo design and brand colors, remember to use them in your annual report design. Your annual report is likely an extension of your business. Making it match will help keep things consistent and in line with the rest of your professional design materials.
Learn More About Annual Report Design
If you'd like to learn more about good annual report design, there's plenty of free tutorial content on Envato Tuts+ to check out today. Whether you're looking for annual report design tips, explanations, or writing guides, check out this free content today:
- Annual ReportsHow to Quickly Make Great Annual Report PDF Designs With InDesignDaisy Ein
- CommunicationWhat Is an Annual Report? (With Definition & Top 2020 Business Examples)Sharon Hurley Hall
- Annual ReportsHow to Write & Design a Great Annual Report for 2020 (+10 Quick Tips)Brenda Barron
Check Out More Annual Report Design Inspiration
Looking for more annual report design inspiration and ideas? Check out these collections of noteworthy designs, available to download now:
- Finance25 Best Annual Report Template Designs - With Creative InDesign Layouts (2021)Sean Hodge
- Nonprofit25 Best Nonprofit Annual Report Template Designs for 2021Daniel Strongin
- Annual Reports20 Free Annual Corporate Report Templates for MS Word & Google Docs 2020Barni Rajah
Start Working on Your Next Annual Report Layout Design Ideas Today
We hope these annual report design tips offered you some extra insight into how to create your ideal design. Why not get started on your annual report design process today? There's no better time to get started—and the more you experiment with the Principles of Design, the easier it'll be to effectively use them.
Remember, if you're looking for some extra help, there's a huge library of annual report design inspiration waiting for you over on Envato Elements. Download several annual report layout design templates, all for one, low fee. It's a perfect fit if you'd like to try several designs out.
Or, if a single download is more your style, check out GraphicRiver. There's a wealth of annual report layout design templates over there too.
Good luck with your annual report design, and happy designing!
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