The Perfect Report – Don’t Make it Shorter, Make it Better

We want to make reports better. Long, dull reports just aren’t our thing (actually, they’re not anybody’s thing). But the problem with them isn’t that they’re long, it’s that they’re not visual.

To create a good report you don’t need to make it shorter – after all, it might need to be long to include everything it needs to. You just need to make it better.

We’re pretty proud of the reports we create. We make sure they’re visual, waffle-free and interesting. This is because we are review every piece information and ask ourselves two questions:

  1. Can I visualise it?

Data is always better visualised because humans are visual learners. Lots of numbers on a spreadsheet don’t mean much to us at a first glance, but a nice graph or other data visualisation can make things clear straight away.

If you can visualise it, then do. If you can’t that’s OK too, just make sure it’s written out clearly and succinctly. Reports should be about simplicity.

  1. Do I need to say it?

You don’t need wasted words. If it’s not necessary, get rid of it. Often we feel like we have to include things in reports like an “about us” page and mission statements. They’re normally very inward-facing and don’t mean an awful lot. By getting rid of the things you don’t need to say, you create a much more engaging piece.

But why does creating a simple and visual report matter?

Most people won’t read a report from start to finish – in fact, in our era of scanning and skimming, the average person reads only 20% of what’s on a page.

So if you want to create the best chance that people will read at least some of it (especially the important bits) and remember it afterwards, then presenting the information better is vital.

One of the best ways to do that is through good data visualization. We humans process visuals faster than text, which is why visuals are key to highlighting important information – and to creating better reports.

Do you have any more tips for writing and designing a great report? Tweet us @infographicly_.