Corporate Eye

Annual Reports, PDFs and Printing

unbalanced scalesI was interested to see that Nexxar have been assessing the size of Annual Report PDFs from DAX-30 companies.

Marco Schueller is right to point out that bandwidth is still an issue – though I think this continues to affect desktop-internet to some extent, not just mobile-internet. In many areas here in the UK, at least, broadband is still only up to 2MB max, not the superfast 20MB version available in cities. And in a very few places, broadband is still not available at all.

The large file-sizes that he points out (10MB-11.6MB) would indeed take a while to download.

Of course, downloading the entire file isn’t always what visitors want to do. Many companies offer indexed versions, so that the desired parts of the document – such as the financial statements – can be selected for download. Some offer the option to add individual sections or pages to a print/download basket, or to be collated into a single PDF; usually this is from within the online annual report. BMW is an example of this service; I was intrigued to notice that BMW suggested additional sections of the report that might be of interest to me, along the lines of Amazon’s well-known cross-marketing software.

A few – very few – offer a printer-friendly version of the complete annual report (see Standard Life, for example), which seems like a good idea. After all, we don’t really need the decorative images, although they do help to convey the corporate brand and messaging. One option that Deutsche Post uses is a print-page facility, so without the background and purely decorative graphics, but with the additional option to print with/without images. (Of course, it would take a long time to print the whole report like this, so a print-whole-report facility like this would be great).

Does this mean a company should come up with three versions in addition to the online annual report? One for hard-copy glossy print, one lightweight for download and one for individuals to print out on their desktop printers? Or more: large-print, audio, braille…

Once the hard work of developing the annual report is done, I think a lightweight version and a printer-friendly version should be relatively straightforward. I’m excluding the online annual report here; I know that’s a significant piece of work. And I can see that versions in alternative formats are also a significant exercise. But I think that providing multiple options for the reports serves the needs of different visitors, such as those who want:

  • to download the full-on beautiful version with lots of images and graphics
  • to download quickly to browse off-line
  • to download and print the information (no images)
  • to download key sections only
  • an accessible version
  • and not forgetting those who want to order a hard copy.

And that, surely, is user-friendly.

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Hi Lucy,

I totally agree with you! In fact its very easy to offer a printer-friendly option within and online report. And it is a true benefit if you are using black/white laser printer, where most of the colorful PDF just uses up your toner!

We offer this option within all our online reports and combine this with our print manager. In fact there is a little secret with some of our reports that come close to your wish for printing out all printer-friently at once. Adding to the URL servicepages/all/print.html brings you to an all in one page printer-friendly content page e.g.

We don’t actively feature that tool as it is taking quite some time to load all the content within on HTML webpage (so take your time when you are trying). And it also seems a bit like anachronistic to offer an online report and then offer all content in one page!
All the best from snow covered Vienna,

Hi Thomas – that’s a clever little secret.

And I can see you’ve got the image/no image option there too, at least for Legal and General. Thanks for sharing that!

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