Good resources for report design
January 6, 2009 1:55 PM   Subscribe

Where can I find examples of great report design for Access or Reporting Services?

When I say "report", I mean Microsoft's broad usage of the word: a page layout in Access or SQL Reporting Services that displays data in a readable format suitable for printing.

My company's software relies heavily on reporting for all output of data, and right now our reports are poorly designed. They don't look pleasing to the eye and the data isn't arranged very well. This is a big problem, because the software will be printing out documents that a company would want to retain for a long time (employee records) and so it's important that it doesn't look amateurish. We use both detail-style (single record) and summary-style (listing) reports, but I would say the design of the detail reports is more important to the software than the listing reports.

My job is to redesign our reports for consistency, quality, and space efficiency. I have a lot of experience in user interfaces and web design, but not page layout! Are there any good resources out there for report design? I don't care about technical stuff, but I am looking for guidelines, common practices, and especially lots of examples.

Books or web sites welcome, as well as any MeFi wisdom...
posted by relucent to Computers & Internet (4 answers total)
One of the most important guidelines is a simple one: the information you present must be readable. I know this sounds simple, but too often it's overlooked or ignored.

I'm a graphic designer and I have several years of experience designing reports such as the ones you've described. Please feel free to MeFi-mail me or write to me--my email is in my profile.
posted by mattdidthat at 2:09 PM on January 6, 2009

I meant to add: Another important guideline is to eliminate the unimportant--by this, I mean you need to decide what information is important and relevant, and eliminate anything that isn't.
posted by mattdidthat at 2:16 PM on January 6, 2009

...and for books and design resources, you might check out Envisioning Information and The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, both by Edward Tufte, and the The Vignelli Canon (PDF) by Massimo Vignelli.
posted by mattdidthat at 2:27 PM on January 6, 2009

I suggest you read this blog and specifically this post. He takes a sort of antagonistic view of the current state of business reporting and suggests ways it can be improved. My only disappointment is that he doesn't offer step-by-step instructions.

I found that site via another site linked to in an AskMe question, so if you check the tags 'Word', 'Excel' or 'Access', etc, you may stumble across a great resource. You probably already did that, but I just wanted to suggest it since I am always learning new tricks here when I didn't know I was looking for them.
posted by soelo at 5:26 PM on January 6, 2009

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