How to Put Together Annual Reports

An annual report provides an overview of a company's performance.
An annual report provides an overview of a company's performance. (Image: Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

An annual report is a document detailing an organization’s activities, structure and financial information over a period of a year. It serves as a means of communicating information about the organization to shareholders and the general public and is an important marketing tool. Annual reports may be legally required for some types of organizations and publicly traded companies. They communicate information about the organization, its operations, its financial performance, audited statements, its vision, mission and goals, its strengths and a business case or other information to encourage shareholders and inform the general public.

Preparing the Report

Decide on the format and layout of the finished document. A simple MS Word or PDF document will require less time and resources to prepare than a glossy magazine-style document.

Work out your time lines. Annual reports are normally presented on a certain date, such as at a general meeting, or have to be filed by a deadline date to meet legal requirements. Decide on how much time is needed for preparation of each section of the annual report, compilation, draft reviews and printing.

Prepare a budget for the production of the annual report.

Secure the resources required to prepare the report. This includes hiring any consultants and auditors and getting agreements from internal departments to commit to delivering their contributions to the report within agreed timescales.

Get the financial reports from the accountants and auditors.

Write the copy for all sections to be included in the report. The sections included in most annual reports are the chairman’s statement, CEO’s statement, auditor’s report, corporate vision and mission statement, audited financial reports, business process overview, organizational structure chart or executive profiles, future plans, staff interests, corporate outreach activities and any other information that is relevant to shareholders.

Schedule photography sessions for all personnel to be included in the report.

Shoot all photographs and arrange all the required artwork.

Draft the final document.

Perform any necessary due diligence and fact-checking. This is especially necessary if you have outsourced portions of your work or copy writing to consultants or freelancers.

Get any required approvals and sign off required.

Proofread the document and make any necessary revisions.

Decide on the number of copies required. You will need to consider all the legal requirements, number of business contacts and number of shareholders, as well as the budgetary allocation for printing costs.

Contract with a printer to print the required number of copies of the annual report.

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