The Basics of an Engaging Report

According to science, humans have the attention span of… oh look! A Pokémon!

Where was I? Ah yes, that’s right. Scientists now say we have a shorter attention span than goldfish at just eight seconds. Eight seconds! No wonder we find long winded, complicated documents like reports duller than dishwater.

Because 83% of learning occurs visually we need to rethink how we do reports. It’s no good sticking some statistics on a page. We need to be able to visualise them. Apart from creating engaging infographics, there are some simple things you can do to transform your report into something people actually want to read:


Create a structure that flows. It seems obvious but I’ve seen a lot of reports where graphs and copy are all over the place, with no logic to it. While your company’s annual report might be a little bit less exciting than your favourite novel, it needs to read like a story. It needs a beginning, a middle and an end, with all the information put across in a logical manner.


The right icons at the right time can play a huge part in information retention. Words are processed by short-term memory, whereas images are processed by long-term memory. Visual retention is much higher, so make use of this –  if something matters, make it memorable!

Colour & Typography

Highlighting key information through well-chosen colour changes and typography variations also help with information retention – and it’ll make your report much nicer to look at. Using colour and typography effectively also lets the reader know what to read first, what’s important and makes everything much clearer.

So even if you do get distracted by Pokémon every eight seconds, you can still learn how to use the principles of good design to your advantage and make reports more engaging and less of a snooze-fest.