Before the advent of computer-assisted design and publication templates, reports were planned using paper, scissors and a wax-based glue. Although the technology has changed, the purpose of the mock-up remains that of planning a report's layout in advance of printing to ensure that the required input is incorporated and mistakes corrected before the final copy goes online or to the printer -- where changes and additions can cost money.
The mock-up provides a framework to fill in with graphics and copy. Sections can be arranged and rearranged for emphasis or according to importance. Mock-ups offer a chance to try out different formats for charts, graphs and illustrations and to place them so readers won't need to shift back and forth in the report to match copy with illustrative graphic. It is the first time that those who have been talking about what should go into the report can see how the parts relate to each other in real space.
After the layout process, copywriters, photographers and graphics specialists begin filling the mock-up with real information. As participants work, text replaces empty text boxes and photos, charts and graphs replace blank spaces. Reports posted on corporate websites might include login pages and disclaimer language in their mock-ups. Printed reports would include printing instructions such as type and weight of paper required. Each new iteration helps move the report from mock-up to draft, when it is ready to polish.