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Unless you have a stunning report cover page to represent the hard work you’ve done and invite viewers to read it, you’re doomed.
That’s a big claim. Probably one that I shouldn’t be making, but we’ve all got biased brains that fall for looks anyway. So why should I lie to you?
See, in your imagination, you can write a stellar report that everyone in the office reads. Appreciates. And applauds for. 👏
Nothing matters. Unless you’ve created an amazing report cover page design to jacket all your content and circle graphs in.
Think of it like this – you’re walking into your favorite bookstore. And for the first time in your life, you don’t have anything on your to-read list. (Impossible, I know. But hear me out.) Now you need to pick a book.
Which one do you think you’ll pick from your favorite section?
At the risk of sounding cliché, it’d be the one with the most attractive cover. Perhaps the cover’s color catches your eye. Or its design.
It could be anything. But, really, the cover is the first step to picking the book up and skimming its summary.
A report cover page works the same way.
It catches your reader’s eye, welcoming him to turn the cover and read what you’ve worked tirelessly to put together.
Since reports are a staple in every quarter, every year, in short, every time, you simply can’t ignore their cover. So it’s time we talk design.
In this post, we’ll roll through the essentials of designing a report cover page, what a report has on its front and the design elements that need your attention.
Reports are believed to be dull, boring and bulky documents. Dull and boring because they talk numbers. And bulky because reports are text-heavy creatures.
At least that’s the belief, right?
It was. But not anymore.
More and more folks are recognizing that eye-catching visuals are the first step to ensuring that their reports make it into their readers’ hands.
In fact, your report’s chances of generating maximum readers get bleak if it doesn’t attract them. So who made the change in this long-standing belief about reports, you ask?
Along with their work on unearthing the impact that design plays in developing first impressions and gripping attention.
We process visual content in about 13 milliseconds, according to the researchers at MIT.
That’s 13 milliseconds.
But have you wondered why we perceive visuals way faster than any other info bit?
The answer might amaze you – our brain is a sucker for beautiful things. It’s innately drawn to them. Put this way, you definitely need an attractive report cover page design.
Takeaway: Design a report cover page that counts. Carefully select the color, font and other design elements. These are secretly working in your favor to spark your target’s interest.
Here’s another interesting discovery. We can remember over 2,000 pictures with roughly 90% accuracy. But we can’t remember words with a similar accuracy.
Put another way – design is much more memorable than written content.
Takeaway: An epic report cover page design makes your report memorable. So your boss will probably call out, “get me that report with the great design.”
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This conclusion comes from an old but gold study with an important, worth-mentioning message. Researchers compared the impact of a time management presentation with and without visual support. The conclusion?
The presentation with visuals was found to be 43% more persuasive than the one sans visual aids. The group also said that the visually rich presentation was more interesting, professional and clearer than the visual-less presentation.
The takeaway: These findings can be easily applied to your report cover. A stunning report cover page design can make your report look professional, interesting and memorable.
In fact, adding visuals to your entire report, and not just its cover, can help you transform your report from dull to captivating.
In short, a fabulously designed report cover works wonders. It makes your report memorable, encourages folks to pick it up and helps it stand out amidst a sea of mediocrity.
Now that you know how crucial a report cover page design is, let’s get down to business – designing an engaging report cover.
Remember that the goal here is to make your report cover page design engaging, informative and unforgettable. All while staying professional.
You also need to ensure that the design is appropriate for your audience’s taste and suits the subject it’s covering. For instance, a report cover designed for a preschool principal is going to be much different from that of a hospital report.
To get to the heart of this, you need to pay attention to five key characteristics.
A pop of color looks great on a report cover page designed for the fashion industry. But it wouldn’t suit the healthcare sector. This is the reason why the Mayo Clinic sticks with blue, a color that gains trust in its annual community report.
Not only do you need to know your audience, but their taste as well when you get to creating the perfect report cover page design.
For example, if your boss has a serious hatred for the color yellow, it’s best to steer clear from using it in your report cover.
This begs the question though – what if you pick a report cover page template that has a yellow theme? Such as in this template below.
In such a case, you don’t need to change all of your plans. Just change the color. This is incredibly easy to do thanks to the flexibility that Visme offers you.
Onto the third factor now. Be aware of your subject like the back of your hand.
So let’s say your report covers extinct animals. Do you think a report cover page with flowers will make sense in such a case? Absolutely not.
Imagine having a flower on this WWF 2018 Annual Report cover.
Before you go about designing a report cover page, you need to be sure of the format you’re going to lay out all of your information in.
Is it a simple one-page report? This daily report template can be a great place to start.
You could also opt for a weekly report format, which gives an overview of the week on its front page as in this template.
Not to forget, your report could also be a masterpiece with lots of data, discussing future plans and reflecting on the annual (or quarterly) happenings.
If you’re putting together suggestions though, then you may find a proposal template suitable for your report cover page design.
Here’s a good one that I find particularly pretty.
You see, the options are varied. You just need to determine what options are going to suit your report cover page best.
And while you decide on your format, here are more report examples that people actually want to read to jiggle your creative bells.
Lastly, don’t forget your visual branding. This applies to you whether you are a service provider sharing reports with your client(s) or an employee in a company.
As you create your report cover page design, you need to take into account all the branding elements including color, font, brand personality and so on. Incorporate all these elements directly into your cover page.
For instance, the Content Marketing Institute designs an orange-themed report cover page year on year. Why? Because orange is their brand color.
If you already have a brand style guide in place, you can take a shortcut to designing your cover by using a report cover page template.
Say you like this report cover page template from Visme best.
Just tweak it to add your logo and brand colors with fonts and you’re all set.
Here’s the thing – you can’t design anything unless you know the content that you need to add to it. Designing without planning content beforehand can be a serious design flaw requiring you to redo the process all over again.
To this end, your report cover page should include:
In case of a report cover page template, you don’t need to worry about all this though.
Okay now that you know what to factor in as you head to the design board, let’s get to the meat of the matter.
We’re going to be shedding light on the most important design elements such as color, fonts, whitespace and more for creating an epic report cover page design.
Just one small but significant tip here. Picking and including these elements in your report cover page won’t be a headache if you already have a brand style guide. Because you’ll need to stick to your branding rather than introduce anything new.
Now that this is out of the way, grab your cuppa and read on.
Creating a report cover page may seem to be the best option to introduce all your favorite colors in one design. Alas, that’s not quite how design works.
Like we discussed, and we’ll be quick about this, pick colors from your brand’s or company’s color palette if you have one.
If not, then get to work by understanding color psychology before finalizing your best picks.
Other tips to keep in mind here are:
As far as your font color is concerned, you’re free to experiment with it. Make your headings pop with a bright color and differentiate your subtitles with another shade.
To be on the safe side though, stick with black or white color for your body font. These two colors have a knack for standing out. This helps deliver your message clearly.
And before we head on to the next design element for your report cover, here are 50 tried and true color combinations. Try your favorite ones to save time. Otherwise picking colors can be as tough as choosing an ice cream flavor as a kid.
Typography leaves an impact on various factors. It’s just as the founder of iA and iAWriter Oliver Reichenstein said, “Optimizing typography is optimizing readability, accessibility, usability [and] overall graphic balance.”
Not to forget, each font comes with its own personality. This could be playful, serious, clean or casual among other styles. So you really can’t neglect fonts at any cost.
Factor in each font aspect including its roundness, letter to letter flow, length and weight. These play a crucial role in instilling feeling in your viewer’s mind.
For example, script fonts are elegant. Serif fonts, on the other hand, have a serious, refined vibe. And sans serif fonts can help your content and design to feel more modern.
If you’re in a rush and your report cover page template needs to be done quickly, play it safe by picking from the top 5 best fonts.
Here are more tips to simplify font selection for you:
As you pair fonts together with each other, be sure to outline your objective first.
Do you want your fonts to flow and harmonize? Or do you want to play with contrasting typography? Decide according to your objective.
Here’s a video explaining this very process of pairing fonts for more clarity:
Data visualization and graphic organizers have a reputation for adding life to your report.
The icing on top is that these stunning visuals can work wonders in catching your reader’s attention. Not to forget, they can make your report cover page unforgettable.
But there’s ONE thing that you need to be absolutely sure about, and it’s that you’ll need high-quality images or illustrations for your report cover page design.
This holds true in all cases, whether your visual occupies a small portion on the front such as in this template.
Or whether your image spreads out from top to bottom on your report cover page like in the Visme template below.
In either case, you need quality. Without it, you run the risk of looking unprofessional.
The good news is that report templates offered by Visme are easily customizable. So you only need to slide in your image and edit the text.
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In addition to the quality, keep the following in mind:
All of these three points are captured in WCS Annual Report 2019’s cover page:
Remember, you’re not to add visuals in your report cover page just for the sake of it. The real goal for visuals here is to reinforce your message.
Hierarchy is the way you organize information on your report cover. The aim is to offer visual clues or a navigation pathway to your readers so they know where to start reading.
Let’s pick an example from one of Visme’s report cover page templates to understand things better here, like this attention-grabbing CRO Proposal.
Did you notice that your focus first landed on “CRO Proposal” rather than any other text? That’s because it was designed to catch your attention first.
How? With its size and bold formatting.
Your eye will naturally concentrate on the subtitle “Conversion Rate Optimization” next.
That’s because its reduced size – smaller than the title but larger than the rest – lays out a navigation path for you.
Here are more tips for planning out your cover’s hierarchy:
To add to your tips for this element, take a look this video from our Make Information Beautiful series on visual hierarchy design principles.
The last design element on this list is whitespace. It’s the unmarked space in a design, also known as negative space.
But by no means does this space have to have a white background. In fact, whitespace could be of any color, image, pattern or texture.
The idea is just to add some breathing room around your design’s elements. Proper use of whitespace between paragraphs and margins can enhance understanding by up to 20%.
So what you’ve got to do in this case is add proper unmarked space (aka breathing room) between the title, subtitle, and other report cover elements.
Here’s a very thoughtful use of whitespace in this report page template to give you an idea.
As for your tips:
You can start designing your report cover page from scratch. Or you could edit a report cover page template from Visme and design a fabulous cover within minutes.
For non-designers though, the design principles we detailed in this post can be a tricky territory to wade into. This is why report cover templates can be lifesavers.
So what are you waiting for? Get a head start designing your next report cover page by signing up for Visme for free.
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