Annual report writing, editing and designing

Annual reports are often considered the ‘thoroughbreds’ of corporate document production: they need a steady hand on the reins to get across the finish line. You need an experienced organisation.

One like us.

During our many years as annual report writers and designers, we’ve picked up a thing or two about best practice in annual report production and will ensure you’re represented in the best possible light. Read the post below entitled The 9 essentials of a great annual report for more.

A good annual report writer will ensure your copy is easy to read, and a good design solution will persuade and engage your shareholders and stakeholders including the use of cut through infographics. Every design element on every page must have a clear purpose and design should never get in the way of content clarity. In other words, a good annual report will deliver results, be on-brand and appropriately tell the story you want it to with the impact you seek.

Since 2000 Andrew Pegler Media has been involved in the plain English editing, writing, layout and design of around 100 annual reports.

Your Andrew Pegler Media-produced annual report will:

  • be written in plain English by a professional annual report writer / editor
  • be on-brand and on-message
  • graphically represent your organisation
  • speak directly to your audience
  • intelligently combine authority, emotion and reason
  • be accessible
  • cover both digital and print options.

Our work as annual report writers and designers over the past 15 years includes:

  • three for NAB
  • four for the Victorian Department of Premier and Cabinet
  • ten for Sustainability Victoria
  • others for Rio Tinto, Australia Post, EPA Victoria and many more.

And we love going digital! This exciting medium allows for videos, interactive infographics and even animations for more effective messaging. Online annual reports also provide crucial analytics — from identifying the most popular pages and animations or videos viewed to which infographics got the greatest number of clicks.

So whether you’re working in a government department, a government agency or a public company, talk to us today about how we can bring unparalleled excellence to your next annual report.

Putting together your annual report this year? Our blog Your 9 essentials for a good annual report will be a great help.

Examples of our recent annual report work


Country Fire Association (CFA)

CFA Annual Report

The brief:

This is the third annual report we have written and designed for the Country Fire Authority (CFA), Victoria’s volunteer and community-based fire and emergency services organisation. CFA helps protect 3.3 million Victorians, and more than one million homes and properties across the state.  Using a mix of interviews with staff, case studies and primary source documentation, APM helped write and design the 2018 annual report, to represent CFA as an open, multicultural and tolerant organisation. Our  graphic design solution featured strategically-selected images and a style that reflected the key messages of inclusion and community.

Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources

DEDJTR Annual Report

The brief:

In 2018 the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (DEDJTR) supported 11 ministerial portfolios and their corresponding agencies. As the largest department in the Victorian Government its annual report would face intense scrutiny so needed to be clearly expressed and thoroughly proofread. APM plain English edited and proofread 78,000 words which included crafting the Secretary’s foreword, a comprehensive review of departmental activities for 2018 and its financials as per legislation in addition to other mandated information.

The Commission for Children and Young People 

Annual Report 2016 to 17

The brief:

The Commission for Children and Young People required a 2017 annual report that strongly reflected its work promoting improvement in policies and practices that impact the safety and well-being of children and young people. APM drew together the copy using a mix of interviews and primary source material. In consultation with CCYP, we also conceived and executed a graphic design solution that reflected the desired messaging.

National Australia Bank (NAB) annual report

National Australia Bank Annual Report

The brief:

Using a mix of information provided, conducting staff and customer interviews and sourcing internally completed pro formas, APM has written both the NAB annual financial report and its corporate responsibility suite the Dig Deeper Series. Both reports aimed to reveal how the bank had performed and created value through its strategy, operating environment, governance and financial and non-financial activities.


vicroads annual report

The brief:

VicRoads approached APM to overhaul and refine its draft annual report. The existing information had been collected from individuals across departments so it often overlapped, varied in detail and style and was a difficult read. VicRoads wanted a cohesive, plain English document that told a story and reflected the key focus areas of their corporate plan. It needed to be signed off for printing in less than ten days!

This job involved making sense of large amounts of material and presenting it in an interesting way. We also had to ensure that state reporting requirements were met and that the document was consistent with VicRoads’ style. We wrote an engaging summary; then case studies and data were finessed to reflect the messages VicRoads wanted to highlight. Other information was consolidated, simplified and edited. Due to the tight timeframe, where there were gaps, we often did our own research using VicRoads’ website and other Victorian government reports. This helped make the document more strategic and kept the process moving.

Thanks so much … APM was a pleasure to work with and tremendous in reworking the content and taking on feedback from stakeholders to produce a clear and concise narrative around our key initiatives.

—Sally McInnes, A/M Registration and Licensing Communications and Stakeholder Engagement, R&L Practice Standards and Solutions, VicRoads

The Department of Education and Training

The department of Education and training

The brief:

For the past two years APM has written and designed the Department of Education and Training’s annual report for its Quality Assurance and Regulation Division (QARD). Copy has been written and edited using a variety of sources that include primary information and stakeholder interviews. APM successfully met each design brief which required a new look and feel to take QARD’s annual reports to the next level.

Sustainability Victoria

Annual Report editing

The brief:

Sustainability Victoria’s 2017 annual report was the tenth APM has written/edited. As an agency of the Victorian Government, Sustainability Victoria aims to integrate sustainability into all aspects of Victorian life. Since 2005, APM has served as Sustainability Victoria’s preferred plain English editor across its wide range of crucial, public-facing corporate documents such as the Annual Report, Business Plan, Green Light Report and local government reports. Copy either arrived at APM in a rough draft form, to be finessed and proofread, or was generated by APM from a mix of interviews and primary source material like surveys, press releases and so on. For 2017’s report, as with others, we have written/edited the copy to:

  • be in plain English while also reflecting the corporate style as outlined in the SV Writing Style Guide.
  • reflect the Sustainability Victoria brand values and personality.

MMG Mining

Annual Report writing

The brief:

MMG Mining was founded in 2009 to become the world’s most respected diversified base metals company. Working in partnership with its major shareholder – China Minmetals – its objective is to become a top mid-tier miner by 2020. It operates and develop copper, zinc and other base metals projects across Australia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Laos and Peru. It also has significant exploration projects and partnerships across Australia, Africa and the Americas. APM finessed copy for its annual report from various sources to be on-brand, engaging and in clear, concise plain English.

The 9 essentials of a great annual report

  02_annual report

Annual reports are often considered the ‘thoroughbreds’ of corporate document production: they need a steady hand on the reins to get across the finish line.

Over the past 15 or so years my company has been involved in the plain English editing, writing, layout and design of over 50 annual reports. This includes three for NAB, four for the Victorian Department of Premier and Cabinet, and seven for Sustainability Victoria, as well as others for Rio Tinto, Australia Post, EPA and many more. During this time, we’ve picked up a thing or two about best practice in annual report production, which will help get you out of the starting gate!

  1. Stay on-brand: The tone and style of your brand needs to be evident in your annual report through the design, layout, images and writing. It’s no good trying to convince people your brand is a champion if your annual report resembles a hack. The more on-brand you are, the more consistent you appear and the more familiar you’ll be. But it’s not an advertising spiel. Given the serious and regulatory nature of the document, you can afford to rein it in a little. Essentially, your annual report is the form guide for your company and brand, a record of its past performance and future potential. And, as a front-runner in your corporate communications stable, it should clearly sport that stable’s colours. It’s no good saying your main point of difference is that you’re imaginative if the language and layout of your annual report is anything but.
  2. Less is more:Learn to edit. You may want to include every last entry but people don’t necessarily want to know everything. Stick with one simple rule: annual reports are a lot easier to read (and digest) if they’re well structured and have something interesting to say. What is the story? Decide what you want to focus on, and align that with your company’s key messages and brand. And include the good, the bad and the ugly. I’ve advised many leading corporations on how to present both good and not-so-good news.
  3. Statistics can tell great stories: Graphically speaking, of course. Decide which statistics best represent your main narratives, and use them to highlight your strategy and performance. Consider highlighting your key achievements with a ‘this year in numbers’ page. Case studies are also very useful and, of course, infographics are, as Zoolander’s Mugatumight say, “so hot right now”.
  4. Use stand out text:‘Pull-out’ text in a larger font can introduce the key messages on a page, and it’s a great way to catch the attention of a roving eye. For example, ‘Why we’ve doubled our IT investment’ or ‘Our UK business is looking up’. Case studies can also be very useful to engage the reader with the story behind the scenes.
  5. Going digital:Given the wholesale access to modern technology, printing an annual report is no longer a proven race winner. A PDF download is much cheaper, and a more effective means of getting the most eyes on this crucial document. It allows for videos, interactive infographics, even animations for more effective messaging. And you can still offer a print version on request — just fire up the colour printer and binder, lick the stamp and drop it in the mail. Whether you go digital, hardcopy or both depends on your budget, time constraints and, naturally, your shareholders/stakeholders particular preferences. A quick survey should reveal all you need to know.
  6. Digital reports and analytics:Presenting your annual report online means you can track every download — from identifying the most popular pages and animations or videos viewed to what infographics got the greatest number of clicks. In other words, what worked and what didn’t. It’s vital insider information that enables you to get the jump on how best to present your results.
  7. Screens, screens and more screens:Yes, many people these days will read your report on an iPad, smartphone or other device so be sure to design for this. Highlight your best stats and key performance points, have lots of white space and, above all, be concise.
  8. Consistency is essential:Tailoring information to your target audience is a golden rule, as is consistency in your company’s message. An engaging and comprehensive annual report should act as a stable mate to your overall communications strategy. For example, a report we completed for a major bank strategically reflected and amplified its upcoming 12-month plan of community activities.
  9. Picking a writer/designer: Writing and designing annual reports is a specific skill, and your approach and budget will dictate how you run that race. You may simply need someone to plain-English edit your supplied copy and lay it out in an on-brand design for the sprint down the home straight. Alternatively, you may decide on the long-distance runner, and have a company like mine come in plan your annual report strategy from go to whoa. Either way, annual reports are highly technical documents and you need a steady hand, so always opt for experience.