How to create a professional report design in Word
The ability to produce a professional report design is not a dark art. By adopting some simple guidelines, you can create documents that your audience will be able to read and understand more easily.
The report designs we create for our clients are based on the science of how our brain and eyes work when they engage with information – these guidelines use that same science.
It’s all about cognitive fluency; the ease with which we process information in the form of words or graphics so that we understand their meaning. It’s our job to make that process as short and simple as possible.
We’re sharing six creative guidelines that we use to do this within our work, and that could help give professional finesse to your own report design.
01. Add a page header
Including a page header in your report design is a simple but effective feature. Many reports are now viewed digitally, and navigation bars can help your readers to move around your content more easily. They also give structure to the page and the document as a whole, framing the content and providing a consistent reference point for readers. Use colour or a bold font to help readers see where they are in the report.
02. Use columns for body copy
The column structure in which the words of the report are set is a key design feature of any written document and the width of a column affects readability.
We don’t read character by character or even word by word but instead we scan and then pause to pick up groups of three or four words. As three or four pauses happen before it gets tiring, we can work out that a column width should be between 9-12 words. That’s the principle.
Using two or three columns for your text can completely reinvent the look of your report. Try using one column for pull-out quotes, key points or imagery. It’s worth noting that white space is not wasteful, but more of that later.