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Special report 50 - Business reporting

Business reporting comprises such a wide range of activity that it is perhaps not fair to include all of these in one special report. We decided, however, that, rather than produce several specialised publications, it would be more interesting to focus on common themes within the topic.

Many would argue that the words in reports carry as much weight as the figures, but those who take this line are less likely to have a finance background. Those who enjoy a good ability to digest numbers are fortunate that we can focus on these, but the financially illiterate will rely on the text that accompanies the data.

The words that we use in reports do provide assistance to the users, offering explanations to those outlying figures and summarising the position which the data reveals, even for the financially literate. I am sure that you will have an anecdote or two of reports with contradictory comment and data; I have seen a few extraordinary examples myself and hope that I was never the creator of such.

Examples of less good reporting can also include unclear and cluttered graphs, over-use of colour, different fonts and other presentational styles that detract rather than enhance the numbers. The report is less interested in the style of reporting rather than the speed and efficiency of them.

David Parmenter, a faculty regular, has written a comprehensive look at rapid month-end closing and we have also included articles on new rules for micro-entities as well as interviews with finance directors about the issues that they have faced with their reporting.

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Full article only available to ICAEW members and students.