A well researched and written report — whether to make policy recommendations, or your annual report — deserves to be well designed and have a solid distribution plan for greatest impact. There are several ways to distribute your report, especially since more and more we are going to the web to distribute the report, and not printing as much as in the past.
Putting your report online can widen your audience and allow you to share it easily on your social media.
Here are 4 methods, in order of cost:
1. Add a PDF of your report to a web page.
A PDF can be embedded directly into a web page in most modern browsers, or it can be linked to and loaded directly in the browser window. As long as the text is set up properly, your report can be indexed by search engines.
Here’s an example of a standard PDF embedded in a page.
Here’s more info on how Google treats PDF content.
Tip: An embedded PDF may not load on mobile browsers. Make sure a fallback download link is available for mobile users.
2. Make an interactive PDF.
A PDF can include live links to web pages, clickable page numbers in the Table of Contents and page navigation. You can also embed videos into the PDF. However, these PDFs only work using Adobe software. If the user’s browser does not automatically use Adobe Reader, then the links will likely not work.
Tip: Whether browsers like Chrome or Firefox open links to PDFs in a new window or download those PDFs to a folder is controlled by the users browsers settings. You can advise the user that the PDF is best viewed in Adobe Reader.
3. Use a service.
Page-able online publishing Services like Issuu.com or Flipsnack.com allow you to take a print-ready PDF of your report, upload it, process it through their automated page generating tool and publish it to an online account—kind of like the Youtube of online PDFs. The result is an online PDF that users can flip through like a paper report. From there you can embed that page-able PDF into a web page, share it directly on your social media or simply share the link to your document however you choose.
Many of these services offer free accounts for basic service. More robust accounts with more support are available for monthly or yearly service fees.
Tip: When choosing your service, investigate whether your content will be readable and indexed by search engines and find out how your uploaded report will look on phone or tablet.
4. Create a report microsite.
The benefit of a microsite is that you can adjust your report design to flex in an online environment. In this way you can make sure that your online report is responsive—meaning the design responds to the screen size (desktop computer, small laptop, tablet or phone) of the reader and can shift to make your content beautiful and readable at any size. The beauty of this is that the infographics can be developed to be interactive instead of static.
Examples of reports designed for printing, as well as developed into a section on their main website.
Tip: The microsite version of your report will take some time and money to put together. Make sure you budget and schedule in the time early enough in your process for a report microsite. Hitting the browser print button from your microsite will not result in a well-designed print-ready PDF. You’ll want to make downloadable copies of the print-ready PDF available to users who need printed versions to share.