Reports are essential communication tools for businesses, non-profits, and governmental organizations. When done right, they convey crucial information in a clear, engaging way.

When done poorly, the message can become muddled or lost. As London’s leading graphic design agency, Red Onion specializes in report design services, creating visually appealing and effective reports that communicate what’s needed. Below, we explore 10 common report design mistakes and provide expert guidance on how to avoid them.

1. Lack of structure and hierarchy

Mistake: Many reports lack clear structure, making it difficult for readers to follow the information.

Solution: Use headings, subheadings, bullet points, and numbered lists to guide the reader through the content. Pay attention to the executive summary, which everyone will read. London’s top design agency for print materials, Red Onion, can help create a cohesive structure that enhances readability.

2. Poor choice of fonts and typography

Mistake: Using too many fonts or illegible fonts can lead to confusion and strain the reader’s eyes.

Solution: Stick to a consistent, clean font family, and be mindful of size and spacing. There are three basic fonts: serif (curly bits at the end of the letters, like Times Roman), sans-serif (no curly bits, like Helvetica, the world’s best font) and slab (a mix of the two). Each font family has a different meaning. Serif is “superior” and will be used by brands such as Mercedes Benz. Sans Serif is “exciting” and is often used by brands such as BMW. Slab is “safe” and is used by brands such as Volvo. High-quality report design specialists in London, like Red Onion, can ensure typography that aligns with your brand and improves readability.

3. Overloading with text

Mistake: Filling every inch with text makes the report overwhelming and hard to digest. Sometimes adding material is like adding cargo to a ship. Add too much, and the vessel starts to sink.

Solution: Embrace white space and break up large blocks of text with visuals or callouts. London’s leading graphic designers at Red Onion are experts in balancing text with design elements to enhance comprehension.

4. Inconsistent use of colour

Mistake: readers see colour first. It is a powerful emotional signal. Overuse or inconsistent use of colour can distract from the content. It confuses the reader. Colour is often misused in data visualisations.

Solution: Choose a limited colour scheme that aligns with your brand and use it consistently. Professional report design services like Red Onion in London can create colour palettes that enhance rather than detract from your message.

5. Low-quality images and graphics

Mistake: Many brands often use images such as hot air balloons rising or bridges or windmills to illustrate articles about abstract concepts such as “sustainability” or “profit.” These abstract images are, by their nature, uninvolving and will make your brand indistinguishable from the competition. This is a prevalent mistake.

Solution: Use high-resolution, relevant images that support the content. Our most vital tip is to ensure the photos have people in them. It is a truism that people want to see people, and the human face is the locus of engagement. We are programmed to respond to it.

London’s expert designers at Red Onion can assist in selecting and placing images that elevate the report’s visual appeal.

Reports should be in the correct font.
Use high-resolution, relevant images that support the content
6. Ignoring mobile readers

Mistake: Everyone is on their phone all the time. Many readers will access reports on mobile devices. Designing without this in mind leads to a poor mobile reading experience.

Solution: Ensure that the report’s digital version is responsive and mobile-friendly. London’s leading report design agency, Red Onion, specializes in creating pieces that provide a seamless reading experience across devices.

7. Failing to align with brand guidelines

Mistake: A report that doesn’t reflect your brand’s identity may fail to resonate with its intended audience. It is no exaggeration is “everything” is brand.

Solution: Adhere to brand guidelines, including colours, fonts, and logos. London’s top graphic design agency, Red Onion, can help align the report design with your brand for a cohesive appearance.

8. Overcomplicated charts and graphs

Mistake: Charts and graphs that are too complex can confuse rather than clarify.

Solution: Design charts and graphs that are simple, clean, and clearly labelled. Pay particular attention to the headline of the graph. It should sit above the chart and be the conclusion of the data you are about to present.  Generally, it should tell the reader one thing only, for example, July was the hottest month on record. If you add more than one conclusion, impact is lost. Eye tracking surveys reveal that readers look at the title, then the chart and then back to the title. Red Onion’s expert graphic designers in London can craft visuals that accurately represent data in an accessible manner.

9. Ignoring the target audience

Mistake: Designing without considering the target audience’s needs and preferences leads to a lack of engagement.

Solution: Tailor the report’s design to suit the target audience. London’s award-winning design agency, Red Onion, understands how to create messages that resonate with specific audiences.

10. Lack of professional input

Mistake: Attempting to design a report without professional guidance can lead to many of the above errors. Don’t be like Elon Musk, who asked the internet to create a new logo for X, formerly Twitter. The result he came back with reduced trust in his brand.

Solution: Collaborate with a specialized agency like Red Onion, known for its high-quality report design services in London. Our experienced designers can guide you through the process, avoiding common pitfalls and delivering a polished, effective report.


Report design is a nuanced task that requires understanding aesthetics and communication principles. Avoiding common mistakes and employing professional design expertise can make the difference between a report that shines and one that falls flat. As London’s leading graphic design agency specializing in reports, Red Onion is here to assist you in creating reports that look great and convey your message. Connect with us today and take the first step towards a more engaging, successful report design.

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