There is so much you can do to use design and turn a plain text document into an attention-grabbing, brand building, thought leadership piece.

It takes a great deal of effort to write a report so we think it is essential it is given the design attention it deserves and you maximise the opportunities to deliver your opinion and conclusions on a given topic. In this post we will take a look at two areas to think about to bring your reports to life – firstly, there are great things you can do with your text content, and secondly, how to use imagery in a clever way.



1. Structured content

If there’s one thing that will make the single biggest difference, it is splitting your content into sections or chapters, and utilising headings and sub-headings. Having section dividers gives you a quick win with immediate impact for a reader by creating scannable content to aid comprehension and make your document more enticing.

Research report for UKCDR

2. Pull-out text

One of the first things we look for are powerful statements and statistics that can be repeated in the document as a pull-out or highlighted, providing easy access to key messages that draw your audience in. Ask yourself, what is the most important takeaway from this piece of work?

Thought leadership report design for the African Venture Capital and Private Equity Association

3. White space

Visual breathing space is crucial to make a longer document easier and more enjoyable to read. A good rule of thumb to follow is to leave about 15% of your page width and 20% of the height for your margins. Just having white space around an important piece of information id also very effective.


Use of imagery & graphics:

4. Diagrams & infographics

A good infographic can easily replace paragraphs of text with a single, striking visual that people always want to engage with. These are also useful to use when promoting your report on social media.

Thought leadership report for Mobilise

Infographic detail for Mobilise

5. Watermarks

A subtle way to re-enforce your brand or topic and add interest whilst still giving your content space to breathe. It is also a useful technique for filling white gaps on pages without being overpowering.

6. Imagery

As shown in all the examples above, using a topical image adds relevance and helps your audience engage with your subject. There are very affordable or free images available online so there should be no excuse for adding some level of visual interest and a sense of identity to your report. Remember to stick to brand guidelines on image use to ensure you are always brand building.

The aim is to create as much visual interest as possible, to keep the reader interested throughout a longer report. It also ensures that people who only skim through still catch your key information and messaging. Remember, the more design effort that is put into a report, the more effective it will be!