5 easy steps + 2 hours = significantly more appealing report

Check out Ann K. Emery’s 5 easy steps that you can tackle in two hours to drastically improve your report’s appearance. This week her blog “A two-hour turnaround: How to transform a text-heavy report into a visual-lite report” offers some great step-by-step tips that can really make a difference.

Ann K. Emery teaches others how to visualize data and share information effectively. She has a great blog. Check it out!

Have any other simple tips to help take your evaluation report up a notch (or any communication about eval results)? Share them here!


Many thanks for this post - very helpful!


This is a very helpful resource, especially for those of us who wear far too many hats and are more accustom to authoring academic research reports than public-facing reports!

In the past I have had limited success purchasing & using report templates from envato market… some are more customization than others (for example in your example some templates may have all the layers so you could simply replace the photo of the books or easily change the colour purple or transparency of the layer while other templates it might all be one flattened purple book image so to change it means deleting).

Adobe has a similar platform to purchase templates and it would be better if there was a way to filter them by Canadian designers.

Does anyone have some go-to sites that feature simple design templates for purchase from Canadian graphic designers in the $20 to $150 range? In the past I have also used Behance.net to track down incredible artists in our area to contract for their services when our budgets are able to grow beyond $150 or so…


I think this “quick and dirty” approach Ann K. Emery suggests is great! Improving the scannability and visual appeal of your reports is a very important step in encouraging people to spend their valuable time actually reading the content you’ve spent so much time developing.

I am a full-time designer however many of the documents I create do not have a heavy design applied to them simply because they don’t require it. It’s important to consider the audience and goal of your document or report. Based on your report’s audience and goal you can determine how much time and effort to focus on visual appeal. Your audience and goals may be served by a plain document in 11pt font with a little bolding or may require hiring a graphic designer to apply a much more involved design.

If you are looking for a registered graphic designer in Ontario you can check out https://www.rgd.ca/find-designers.

Ann’s article will take you a good ways towards a more visually appealing and scannable report however you may be required to update some of your content to make it more readable for the average person. I encourage adding a table of contents and executive summary to your reports so people can gain a really quick understanding of the scope and content of your report and where they can find the most relevant content for them. In my experience, it is very rare that someone read a report from cover to cover. It is much more likely that they will flip through the document and cherry pick the content they want to read.


Today I also came across this Evaluation Report Layout Checklist by Stephanie Evergreen. It’s meant to be used as a diagnostic guide to identify things that could be improved upon. I really like the best practice tips shared. The checklist provides advice on type, arrangement, graphics and colour.

My favorite tips:

  • Use smaller bullets.The default should be reduced, as they can be too distracting.
  • Have empty space on each page. Leave plenty of space between paragraphs, around page margins, and between text and graphics. It gives eyes a rest.
  • Make sure graphics are near associated text. If readers need to flip back and forth, comprehension will be impaired.
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