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How to Write & Design a Great Annual Report for 2020 (+10 Quick Tips)

A great annual report is the perfect opportunity to share information about your company and promote your brand and identity. It's an official document that incorporates a lot of financial and statistical data. But that doesn’t mean your annual report design and contents have to be boring and bland. 

Annual Report Corporate Brochure
Annual Report Corporate Brochure

If you’re wondering how to write and design a great annual report, you’re in the right place. In this guide, we’ll share how to choose the right setup for your annual report, the steps to write and design your annual report, and helpful tips along the way.

What Is an Annual Report? And What Makes a Great One?

An annual report is an official document that public companies have to provide to their shareholders. It provides a detailed explanation of the company’s operations and financial conditions. 

Typically, the first part of the annual report covers the company’s activities over the past year. This part might also include future predictions and forecasts. The second part of an annual report covers detailed financial and operational information.  

But that’s not the end of it. A truly great annual report will make your company stand out. It'll help investors keep your company in mind for future investment and funding rounds. It'll also increase shareholders’ trust in your company as well as allow you to connect with existing and future customers.

Find Great Annual Report Templates On Envato Elements

Writing and designing an annual report isn't easy. But there’s no need to reinvent the wheel and start from scratch. There are hundreds of annual report templates available online. 

Pre-built templates will save you time because they already have everything in place. All you've got to do is drop in your content. 

One of the best places to find great annual report templates is Envato Elements. It's got a compelling offer—it’s a subscription-based marketplace with thousands of modern and professional annual report templates. 

annual report templates on Envato Elements
Annual Report Templates on Envato Elements

Download as many annual report templates as you want—all for a low-monthly fee. Not only that, but a subscription to Envato Elements grants you access to thousands of other unlimited-use design assets such as: 

  • stock photos
  • icons
  • business card templates
  • and more 

Another place where you can find amazing and modern annual report templates is GraphicRiver. 

Modern Annual Report Templates on GraphicRiver
Modern Annual Report Templates on GraphicRiver

GraphicRiver is part of Envato Market, a suite of marketplaces that cater to various creative needs. On GraphicRiver, you can buy single-use annual report templates whenever you need them. 

What Is Included in an Effective Annual Report for 2020?

As mentioned earlier, your annual report is an official document that’s part of your corporate reporting. While the specific legal requirements vary from one industry to the next as well as from one type of company to the next, there are a few crucial elements that are common across all annual reports:

1. CEO’s Letter to the Shareholders

The first thing you’ll want to include in your annual report is the CEO’s letter to the shareholders. This letter provides an at-a-glance annual report overview of the company's achievements over the past year and any significant developments. 

Be sure to include a brief summary of the financials as well. You’ll also want to include the challenges you’ve faced, how you worked through them and resolved them, and any insights into the future growth of the company. Follow it up with a table of contents for your annual report so everyone knows what to expect in the report. 

2. Company Profile

The next section that should be in your annual report is the company profile. Here you should include:

  • your vision and annual report mission statement
  • details about your directors
  • corporate offices and branches
  • products and services that represent the main source of your income
  • competitor profile
  • industry risks
  • and investor profile 

In a nutshell, this section should provide your shareholders and potential investors with a snapshot of your company so that they've got a better understanding of your brand and everything it offers. 

3. Business Performance Overview

This section, as the name implies, provides your shareholders and investors with necessary financial information that shows how your company is doing. It includes your sales numbers, overall income or profit, and your profit margins. 

This section can also include mentions of new services or products you’ve launched, changes in the industry or marketing trends. 

Aside from the above, your business performance overview should include information about any new hires or company acquisitions. These are things that your shareholders will find important. 

4. Financial Information

This section is probably the most important part of your annual report. It makes it easy for your shareholders, investors, customers, and employees to see how well your company has performed in the past, how profitable you are, and how you plan to scale the profits in the future.

You’ll want to include the following statements: 

  • company balance sheet and cash flow statement
  • company income statement
  • financial statement for your shareholders 
  • market price of your company shares and the dividends that need to be paid out. 

You can also include information or comments by auditors, accounting policies, and forecasted income and expenses. 

How to Write and Design Great Annual Reports in 2020 

So now that you know what the annual report is, why it matters, and what goes in it, let’s go over some key design and writing tips that'll help you make a great annual report: 

1. Decide on a Key Message

The most important part of the planning and writing process of your annual report is to decide on a key message. Remember, the first part of the report is a great opportunity to highlight your achievements and the impact those achievements have had on your bottom line. 

Both your stakeholders and customers will be interested to know what you did and the motivation behind it. By being transparent about your accomplishments and connecting them with your mission and goals, you’ll establish trust and even attract new investors.

2. Plan Out Your Structure

Once you know what your key message is, it’s important to plan out the structure of your annual report. As mentioned earlier, you’ll want to open up with your CEO’s letter followed by a table of contents. 

After those two elements are in place add your company profile, business performance overview, and financial statements. But this doesn’t mean you can present the information as you please. It’s important to create a storyline that'll present a compelling narrative about your business. Steer clear of ambiguous language and present the information in a clear, objective, and informative manner.  

3. Use Graphs and Infographics

Your annual report will contain a lot of complex data. Make that data easy to understand by using graphs and infographic elements. This includes charts, timelines, illustrations, and other elements. 

No matter how many graphics you include in your annual report, make sure they've got a consistent design that uses your brand’s colors. This will make the entire report look cohesive. Plus, those elements will naturally draw the audience’s eye towards the important information on the page.

ProBiz  Business Annual Report
ProBiz – Business Annual Report

4. Don’t Forget to Include Photos

Aside from graphs and illustrations, your annual report should also include photos. Add a photo of the CEO to your CEO’s letter and provide photos of key team members in the company profile. 

This will add a human touch to your company and brand and make your annual report more personable. Another benefit of using photos is that you’ll show your stakeholders and investors that you put a lot of thought and care into creating your annual report. As a result, they’ll engage with it more and pay attention to the rest of the information. 

Business Report
Business Report

5. Don’t Shy Away From Color

We mentioned earlier that your graphs and infographic elements should use brand colors. But that’s not the only place to include color. Add a colored cover or use colored background on certain pages to draw attention to specific information. 

Plus, this is another opportunity to highlight your brand and make your annual report memorable.

Colorful Annual Report
Colorful Annual Report

6. Combine Two Fonts

Create a beautiful text hierarchy by combining two fonts instead of using just one. You can, for example, use a serif font for headings and sans-serif font for body text. 

Another tip when it comes to fonts and text is to make use of bold and italic text to make important information stand out more. This will also make your annual report easy to read.

You can also make use of colors and use one of your brand colors for headings, quotes, or any callouts that draw the eye towards certain parts of the page. 

Annual Report Example With Great Text Hierarchy
Annual Report Example With Great Text Hierarchy

7. Pay Attention to Your Annual Report Cover

The cover of your annual report is just as important as the rest of it. Don’t make it an afterthought by quickly throwing your company name and your logo on the front page. 

Instead, make use of your company photo and experiment with shapes or color overlays to make an eye-catching cover design. Use the cover design as an opportunity to give your audience a first glimpse into your brand and what they can expect when they dive deeper into your annual report.

Annual Report With Engaging Cover Design
Annual Report With Engaging Cover Design

8. Use Icons as Accents

Consider using icons paired with a heading to highlight different sections of your annual report. Use them throughout the report along with graphs and other infographic elements to make the information easier to understand. 

Icons will make your entire annual report even more visually appealing. You can find plenty of annual report templates that already come with icons included so all you've got to do is customize them. 

Annual Report With Icons
Annual Report With Icons

9. Proofread Everything

Once you've written and designed your annual report, you’ll want to proofread everything. This will ensure there are no embarrassing mistakes and that all the information is correct and up to date. Consider asking several of your employees or coworkers to go over the report to double and triple-check for grammar mistakes or use a tool like Grammarly. 

10. Save Time With Templates

Our last tip will help you save a ton of time designing your annual report. Use professionally designed premade annual report templates that are available on Envato Elements and GraphicRiver. These templates already have all the necessary elements in place. All you've got to do is customize them with your information, preferred colors and fonts, and, naturally, your images. 

After that, simply save your design, export it as a PDF or share it as a presentation or a Word doc. This tip alone will shave hours of your annual report design so be sure to check out our modern annual reports templates such as this one: 

Annual Report Template
Annual Report Template

Design a Great Annual Report in 2020

Writing and designing a great annual report may seem daunting. But once you know what’s involved in the process, you can knock it out of the park in no time. In this tutorial, we’ve explained what an annual report is and what makes a great one. We’ve also shared planning, designing, and writing tips that'll help you make a great annual report. 

Get started today on your annual report with a premium annual report template from Envato Elements. Take advantage of thousands of unlimited use templates and graphics for all your creative needs. 

Or, if you prefer to buy design assets one-at-a-time, stop by GraphicRiver and explore our collection of single-use, modern annual report templates.

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