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How to Quickly Make Great Annual Report PDF Designs With InDesign


Looking for the perfect annual report design—or curious about how to create an annual report in InDesign? Report templates can help.

annual report InDesign template
This beautifully designed annual report InDesign template is available for download on Envato Elements.

In this article, we'll look at what makes a good annual report design, explain how to design the perfect InDesign report layout, and provide other design tips.

Whether you're an absolute beginner or an experienced designer, you've got plenty of options when it comes to annual report design. Let's dig right in.

How to Make an Annual Report Design

annual report design
Need some layout help or inspiration? Download this annual report design on Envato Elements, right now.

So, you've been tasked with the following: how to create an annual report in InDesign. This might seem like a large, daunting question, especially if your background isn't in graphic design or print design. 

Here are two steps to get you started on your annual report design quickly:

Step 1. Plan Your Annual Report

Let's start at the beginning. Think about the purpose of your annual report:

  • Gather your information. An annual report is meant to share information about your business and its performance, over the past year. Collect all the information you need to share in advance.
  • Consider your branding. Your annual report should be a visual extension of your brand. This is more than your logo. Think about colors, fonts, and other visual qualities that are a consistent part of your business and its identity.
  • Plan your delivery. How will you deliver your annual report to shareholders, partners, and other interested parties? Print copies will have costs, so make sure to research and plan for this investment. Digital is an option to consider too. But you'll still need a way to conveniently distribute your content. Will you try an annual report pdf? 

The planning stages are a crucial part of good annual report design. This will also help you avoid revisions and misdirection when you start to make design decisions. Consider taking a look at some of the best annual reports graphic design pdf files out there for inspiration. Check out what your industry, peers, and competition are doing.

Step 2. Consider a Template

You'll also want to consider your software fluency and design experience. Since you're here, you've likely decided to take on your annual report InDesign project yourself—and that's awesome. 

But this also means a time investment. Will you begin your annual report design from scratch? Or will you use an InDesign report template to help jumpstart your process and save some time? Don't let a template deter you—you can create some really amazing, fully custom, beautiful things with the help of a template to get you started. You can often find annual report design samples pdf documents on official business or organization websites.

 InDesign report layout design template
An InDesign report layout design template, like this one, can help jumpstart your design process.

This can be especially useful if you're a beginner or you don't necessarily know what direction you'd like to visually pursue. A template can give you that foundation that you can develop into something entirely new. 

Or, if you're short on time, use an InDesign report template to complete your annual report design both quickly and efficiently. 

Which option is best for you, your project, and your time frame?

  • Create an Annual Report Design from scratch. This is the largest time commitment, but it's low cost if you've got the skill set and the resources. Do some visual research to help you flesh out what direction you'd like to go in. It's a good idea, too, to consider your target audience and the best way to appeal to them, too.
  • Use an InDesign Report Template to create a Custom Design. This is a great way to jump right into your design running. Templates can be a huge time saver, and they can often be used more than once too. With the ground work set, adjust until you've got the perfect design.
  • Use an Annual Report Design Template to finish your project. If you've got a plan and you've got your content ready, an InDesign report template could completely finish the job for you. Insert your content, make some adjustments, and you're done. It can really be that simple. 
 InDesign report layout designs
Sample InDesign report layout designs from Envato Elements—download them today to start designing.

Regardless of which option you prefer, we'll look at some designs and techniques to help you with your project, in this article. If you're opting to design from scratch, we'll look at some noteworthy designs, as well as methods to customize and publish in Adobe InDesign. If a template sounds perfect for you, download any of the examples we'll look at and jump right in.

Find the Perfect Annual Report Template on Envato Elements

Finding the perfect assets, whether you're looking for an InDesign report design, stock photos, graphics, or fonts, can be tough. Not only that, it can be expensive. 

This is why it's a great idea to check out Envato Elements, especially if you like the idea of trying out a whole library of annual report designs without worrying about the price tag. There are over a thousand annual report designs to choose from. Download anything you like from this library, all with one low fee. 

Envato Elements
Choose from a large collection of Adobe InDesign annual report templates on Envato Elements—they are all included with unlimited downloads.

From annual report design samples pdf files to annual report cover design, there's a lot to see. 

And it's not just about access to a huge collection of annual report InDesign templates. Your annual report might need professional photographs. You might want to try a new font or work in some infographics. With Envato Elements, all that's included. You get an entire collection of professional assets, add-ons, and more. It's an amazing deal. 

Here's a preview of some of the beautiful Adobe InDesign annual report templates you can download right now:  

1. Premium InDesign Annual Report Design Template

Premium InDesign Annual Report Design Template

Choose from 16 beautifully designed pages in this InDesign report layout collection. Add your images, text, and branding to make this design your own. Or completely mix up layout elements, swap pages, and more. There's plenty of possibilities here. 

2. Colorful Adobe InDesign Report Design Template

Colorful Adobe InDesign Report Design Template

If you're looking for a more colorful approach, check out a design like this one. Remember, these files can be completely customized. When looking for annual report cover page design templates, free download files might be tempting. But they aren't going to come with this many options and documentation to help you out.

3. Adobe InDesign Annual Report Templates Design

Adobe InDesign Annual Report Templates Design

This template is print ready and has 14 different pages to choose from. It's also a great choice if you're looking for an annual report pdf too. Remember, you can duplicate these pages, move them, and customize them any way you like. 

Find Even More Annual Report Templates on GraphicRiver

You can also find a wealth of content over on GraphicRiver. It's a great alternative choice, if you'd prefer a pay as you go, single download option for Adobe InDesign annual report templates.

Choose from thousands of professional annual report design templates on GraphicRiver.

If you're not necessarily looking for a library of professional assets, give GraphicRiver a look. It's simple and easy to find the perfect annual report design and download it—no extras, no hassle. 

How to Work With Annual Report Design

Now, let's jump into Adobe InDesign. If you're really new to Adobe InDesign, and you're not comfortable yet with the basics—like opening files and placing images—we've still got you covered. 

Check out this 100% free course, from Envato Tuts+: Adobe InDesign for Beginners. This is a great place to start if you aren't sure of basic InDesign techniques, yet.

But if you're familiar and comfortable with InDesign, let's dig right into an annual report design. We'll use this template, below, as a starting point in this walkthrough. The concepts will transfer whether you're building a design from scratch or using another template. Feel free to download it and work along if you'd like to.

annual report InDesign template
Download this annual report InDesign template on Envato Elements.

Let's start customizing:

1. Your InDesign Document

For this example, we'll work at US Letter size (11 x 8.5 inches, 27.94 x 21.59 centimeters) with a 0.125 inch (0.3175 centimeter) Bleed. You don't necessarily have to work at this size if you prefer. If you opt to work at a different size, your results may vary.

If you do opt to work with a template, keep the following file types in mind:

  • INDD files are an InDesign Document File. This is typically the file you'll want to work with if you're using the most recent version of Adobe InDesign.
  • IDML files are an InDesign Markup Language File. This file is a strong choice if you're using an older version of InDesign. You can also use this file type in newer versions of Affinity Publisher.
  • INDT files are an InDesign Template File. Use this file if you'd like to start a new document, based on the template design. This is convenient, if you'd like to preserve the original INDD and avoid the risk of overwriting it.

Choose the file type that is best for your project. 

InDesign File Types

2. Effectively Use the Pages Panel

The Pages Panel is one of the most essential parts of working with a multi-page document in Adobe InDesign. To open it up, go to Window > Pages.

From this panel, we can easily jump to different pages in our document. Simply click on any of the page thumbnails within the Pages panel, to jump to a new page or spread in your main workspace. 

Right click on any page to Move, Delete, or Duplicate it. 

You can also create a New Page by clicking on the plus sign icon, at the bottom of the Pages panel.

The Trash Can icon, down beside it, is an alternative, quick way to delete pages.

InDesign Pages

3. Annual Report Cover Design

Let's start with our Annual Report cover design. To zoom in, use the Zoom tool in your Tools panel. 

Or press Ctrl on PC or Command on a Mac and + to easily zoom in. The - key will then zoom out.

So, what makes a good annual report cover design? It should look great, but it needs to work great too. This means:

  • Your cover should be eye catching. We can achieve this with color, graphics, and interesting layout choices. 
  • Your cover needs to be easy to understand. If the cover looks beautiful but the reader can't figure out what's going on, the design won't be successful. Strong organization and hierarchy can help insure that the reader will have a clear, legible experience.
  • Your cover should include all necessary essentials. It's important to understand what content needs to be present here. For example, you need your title, and it's good to have other key content, like the applicable years and your business name. But this might not necessarily be the place for large paragraphs. Save that for the inside. 
Annual report cover design

4. Working With and Editing Text in Adobe InDesign

We can easily edit text in Adobe InDesign using the Type tool, in the Tools panel. 

Select the Type tool and then click on any existing text in your InDesign report layout. Now, edit the text as you would in most word processing software.

Notice that the text is held within a box. This is a rectangular frame, or a text box, that "holds" your text. If you resize the box, the area that the text can fill will change. 

If you want to add new text to your layout, select the Type tool. Then, click and drag to create a new text box. Then add your text to this new space.

InDesign Edit Text

5. Changing Colors and Working With Color

Next, let's experiment with different colors. At the bottom of your Tools panel, you can find the Stroke color and the Fill color.

  • The Stroke color is applied outside of your content or rectangular frame. Think of the Stroke like an outline or border.
  • The Fill color is applied inside of your content or rectangular frame.

So, let's test this out by changing the color of one of our shapes in our layout.

Select the shape with the Selection tool, in the Tools panel.

Then, click on the Fill color. This will open up the color picker for you.

Choose a new color of your choice. Then click OK.

Now, the new fill color has been applied to this shape. 

InDesign Fill Color

6. What Makes an Effective Two Page Spread?

A two page spread is two pages, in a multi-page document, that visually work together. Most of us have seen this in magazines and other publications. 

Check out this sample InDesign report layout design. The two pages are different but notice how they're designed in a way that complements each other. Some design elements stretch from one side of the page to the other, too.

Two Page Spread InDesign

7. Supplemental Elements in Your Layout

Design isn't all about beautiful, eye catching elements. Sometimes, it's very much about strategic supplements too. For example, think about page numbers. They don't tend to be as bold or eye catching as something like the title. Still, they're an important way finding tool in your annual report design.

This is why it's important that page numbers are consistent. If the page numbers are in a different place on each page it becomes difficult to easily flip to different parts of the document. That consistency also means that they serve a supplemental role in the design—they're more ambient, and that's a good thing.

Supplemental Text

8. How to Create Emphasis (and Why You Should)

Emphasis us the opposite of supplemental. This is a part of your design that commands attention. Think of it like the star of the show. 

Remember our page numbers? Repetitive, similar content will serve to be supplemental. Varied content stands out. This is why a large headline grabs our attention a lot quicker than the body copy, which tends to be much smaller and longer. If your headline or title was small and in the same text box as your body copy, the reader might miss it all together. Why? It would look too much like the body copy.

Use things like Scale (size) and Contrast (light and dark) to help create emphasis. Look at the headline on this example page. See how it stands out way more than the footer content and page number?

Notice how "Productivity Values" stands out more than "Insights". This is contrast in action. 

Emphasis in Layout Design

9. Adding Images in Your Layout

Images can prove to be very communicative. Incorporating them into your layout can be a great way to further your message and connect with your audience.

In this example annual report design, there are image placeholders. Let's add new images to the layout.

First, using the Selection tool, select the placeholder or any existing rectangular frame where you'd like to insert an image.

Then, go to File > Place. Navigate to the image you'd like to place on your computer. Select it and click OK. I'm using this stock photograph from Envato Elements..

InDesign will then insert the image for you. 

InDesign Place Images

10. Customizing Images in Your Layout

Your imported images might not be positioned the way you like. Right click on the image and select Fitting to choose from several options, such as:

  • Fill Frame Proportionately. This will fill the rectangular frame with your image while maintaining the image's proportions. Part of the image may be cropped to accommodate the space properly.
  • Fit Content Proportionately. This will resize the image so it fits the frame. But it may not necessarily fill the entire frame.

There are other Fitting options too—experiment with them! You may also want to manually adjust your images. To do so, double click on the image and use the resize handles to manually scale it within the rectangular frame.

InDesign Adjust Images

11. Saving Your Work

We've already looked at INDD, IDML, and INDT files. But it's important to understand that those are backend files—not files that you'll likely want to share with your viewers. Think of them like your behind the scenes content. 

That's why it's so important to save your work as an InDesign file. If you ever want to make edits or adjustments, you'll need this source file. Something like a PDF file or JPG file won't be nearly as easy to work with.

If you're printing your annual report design, ask your printer about the file types they need. They may require source files or an annual report pdf. 

Go to File > Save to save your work, as the existing name and file type. If it's untitled, you'll be prompted to name your file. 

Go to File > Save As if you'd like to save a new file and a new file time. This can be a quick and convenient way to save as IDML or INDT. 

InDesign Save As

12. Creating an Annual Report PDF

An annual report pdf can prove to be an essential when it comes to delivering your finalized design as well as for sharing works in progress.

To export your work as a PDF, go to File > Export.

Under the Save as File Type drop down menu, choose Adobe PDF (Print). But there are a host of options here, like EPUB, JPG, IDML, and more. 

Give your file a name and then click Save.

annual report design samples pdf

This opens up the Export PDF options. Choose from a large collection of options here, from how many pages you want to export (all of them, specific ones, etc), how you want them exported (spreads or single pages) and more. 

Browse the options—one of the best ways to get familiar with them is to try them out.

Click Export once you're ready to export your annual report pdf. You can always export again if you'd like to try out different options.

annual report design samples pdf

Looking for Even More Annual Report Design Inspiration?

Want to check out more examples of good annual report design? From excellent annual report cover design to inspiring InDesign report layout pages, there's plenty to see in these collections. We've even got annual report cover page design templates free download listings, if you're looking to download some freebies. Check them out today:

Want to Learn More About InDesign and Annual Reports?

Or maybe you're looking for more info about the nuts and bolts of annual reports and Adobe InDesign. There's plenty of free content to check out on Envato Tuts+. Learn how to make the best annual reports graphic design pdf, or how to improve your InDesign report design.

Here's some awesome, free tutorials to check out today:

Start Your InDesign Report Design Today

It's a great time to jump right into your annual report design project. Why not get started today? There's so many resources out there that can help you jump right in and get the job done.

Use a design template to give your process a boost. Remember, there's a huge collection of Adobe InDesign annual report templates on Envato Elements that you can download right now. Not only that, you can choose from hundreds of professional InDesign report layout designs, and they're all included with unlimited downloads. It's fast, simple, and a total bargain.

Or, if you prefer a single download, check out GraphicRiver. It's got high quality content without access to an entire library of content. It's a great fit if you're only looking to download one annual report InDesign template.

Good luck with your design project!

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