Instructions for a Summary of an Annual Report

by Mary Jane; Updated September 26, 2017
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An annual report is a presentation of a business's financial data. It is often presented in graphs and charts as well as written paragraphs. It is also introduced by a letter from the company's owner or CEO that touches upon financial issues or difficulties the company might have had throughout the financial year, which are discussed in the report. To write a summary of the report, you need to fully understand the data so you can capture all of the main points being presented. The summary highlights these key points so the reader doesn't have to read the entire report.

Step 1

Remind yourself of the definition of a summary. A summary presents the major elements discussed in the annual report. The goal is to list the key points discussed so the reader doesn't have to dig through the report for information.

Step 2

Read through the entire annual report so you have a complete idea of what it entails. Do not start writing the summary as you read, as you might highlight the wrong points or leave out crucial details. Make a note every time a new idea or topic is introduced. Read it twice if you have to, and underline each point if necessary.

Step 3

Compose two or three sentences that explain the purpose of the annual report. For example, write that the report illustrates the financial overview and status of the company and provides investors and shareholders with data about the company's earnings and spending.

Step 4

Highlight the important points in the CEO's letter that was written as an introduction to the annual report. Interpret the information in the letter and write it in your own words. For example, while the CEO may focus on the positive achievements and barely touch on the negatives, you could mention that the CEO does not want to bring attention to the latter. Explain that the CEO avoids the negatives by highlighting and focusing on positive achievements.

Step 5

Highlight the results of the important charts or data in the report. For example, instead of focusing on each asset mentioned in the report, add up all of the assets to get a sum. Include the long-term and short-term assets owned by the business. Do the same for the liabilities. The key point is whether the overall assets are greater than the overall liabilities for a positive net worth. Use the individual graphs or assets as examples.

Step 6

Discuss the overall financial status of the company as presented in the annual report. This status is calculated by dividing the assets by the liabilities. A good status is when the assets are twice as big as the liabilities. Use the individual graphs in the report as examples.

Step 7

Write a conclusion to the summary. The conclusion highlights the purpose of the annual report. Do not add your own thoughts, but use only the data presented in the report. If the business is not financially stable, use the report's income statements to show how the spending may not be suitable for the company's budget. Use data in the report as evidence to support your interpretive conclusion.

About the Author

Based in Toronto, Mary Jane has been writing for online magazines and databases since 2002. Her articles have appeared on the Simon & Schuster website and she received an editor's choice award in 2009. She holds a Master of Arts in psychology of language use from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.

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