Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published.

    Developing a One-Page Annual Report

    Updated on: Dec 23rd, 2014
    , ,
    Collage of a bar chart, people, arrow, computer and calendar.

    At a recent Board of Directors meeting: “I think I’ll design a one-page annual report for the Washington Evaluators!”

    Draft 1

    At the meeting: “Which metrics would we include? Maybe stats about the number of members, number of events held, brown bag topics….?”

    Look closely, can you see the small multiples blog post peeking through on the other side of the page? Start with sketching and your life will be 1,000,000 times easier.

    Draft one of one-page annual report for the Washington Evaluators.


    Draft 2

    Revisiting the initial brainstorming, about a week later: “I’ll need a header section, and a 2-sentence description of the organization, and maybe a list of Board members, and some demographic charts on members, and something about our brown bags and happy hours. And of course we’ll need contact information at the bottom… Okay this seems easy… Is this too easy…? Sketching is always the easiest step, right…?”

    Draft two of a one-page annual report for the Washington Evaluators.


    Draft 3

    “The ‘Who We Are’ section is looking huge. Which topics do I even have data on? And how many charts can I realistically fit in that tiny space? I’d really love to keep this summary to just one page… And how would I actually visualize that stuff under ‘What We Do’ …  hmm … maybe a graphic timeline? … okay I’ll go with that for now…”

    Draft three a of one-page annual report for the Washington Evaluators.


    Draft 4

    “This will be so easy, I’ll just stick these charts and text boxes into a PowerPoint slide so that I have plenty of control over moving the various objects around on the screen… I’ll just set my slide dimensions to a portrait layout… This’ll be printed in black and white and shared online in color PDFs, so I can use some color, but I better stick with a pretty simple color scheme – probably the burgundy from our logo and that’s it. There’s some yellow too, but there’s no way that yellow will show up good when this is photocopied in black and white… Darn copying and pasting charts from Excel into PowerPoint is such a drag, I wish there was some way around it…”

    Screenshot of a chart in progress.

    Draft 5

    “Oh geez, oh course there’s a shortcut that helps me avoid copying and pasting charts back and forth from Excel into PowerPoint – I’ll just create the entire report inside Excel. Just like I often do… Why didn’t I think of that 20 minutes ago?! … C’mon Ann, maybe you shouldn’t be working on this ‘just for fun’ project at 2am…”

    Screenshot of a report and charts in progress.

    Final Report

    Three weeks later, revisiting the Excel-based summary: “Vertical text boxes? What was I thinking?! … And those burgundy boxes around each section… They seemed fine earlier but now they seem way too dark… I want the headers to stick out, so let me increase the font a little and add light gray lines instead of burgundy boxes.”
    Washington Evaluators Annual Report 2014.
    Want to view the full report? Click below to download the PDF.

    Download the PDF
    More about Ann K. Emery
    Ann K. Emery is a sought-after speaker who is determined to get your data out of spreadsheets and into stakeholders’ hands. Each year, she leads more than 100 workshops, webinars, and keynotes for thousands of people around the globe. Her design consultancy also overhauls graphs, publications, and slideshows with the goal of making technical information easier to understand for non-technical audiences.


      Leave a Reply

      Your email address will not be published.

      You Might Like

      Our complimentary mini course for beginners to dataviz. Takes 45 minutes to complete.


      Visualizing 24 School Divisions’ Submissions with a Dashboard in Microsoft Excel

      Amadu Sidi Bah encountered a forgotten folder on the shared drive: “Stakeholder Submissions.” These text-heavy reports had been left to gather dust. He wanted to make sure the stakeholders’ recommendations were used in policy decisions, and he decided to do something about it. In this blog post, you’ll see the Excel-based dashboard that Amadu created from those 24 reports.

      More »

      Ready to transition out of academic-style reports? Tired of Text Walls? Learn how to design skimmable, accessible reports that our audience can quickly understand.



      Not another fluffy newsletter. Get actionable tips, videos and strategies from Ann in your inbox.