Reporting Methods

Reporting Methods

We previously learned that there are many ways to present your data so that it can be easily understood by your stakeholders. No matter which reporting method you choose, simplicity will ensure that the results of your evaluation are both accessible and understandable.

There are two broad categories of reporting methods: those that are written (annual reports, fact sheets, etc.) and those that are oral/visual (PowerPoint presentations, exhibits, news release, etc.). No matter the reporting method you choose, the report should take into account your audience and be both accessible and understandable.

Click on the links below to view information on reporting formats.   

Written Reports


Oral/Visual Reports


 Written Reports




 Main Components



Abstract and Briefing

For audiences who are short on time or focus.

An abstract is a short, written overview. A briefing is a short, oral overview.  Both are usually part of a larger report.

The reasons for conducting the evaluation.

The major conclusions and recommendations.

If your audience is short on time they should be able to quickly and easily glean major evaluation conclusions.

Example abstract

Annual Reports

For audiences interested in a highly formal report on all aspects of a program and the evaluation.

A detailed, year-long overview of a program and evaluation findings.

Summary, background information, a description of the project, evaluation results, etc. 

Annual reports can be interesting and engaging if you follow a proven format.

Annual report outline and tips

Fact Sheet

For audiences who want to easily pick out relevant facts about the data at a glance.

Simple, one-page documents listing facts about the data in a simple-to-read format.

A brief program background, purpose, basic data, conclusions, and recommendations.

Should easily convey data at a glance.

Example fact sheet

Empirical Publication

For specific practitioners or academics who are interested in research or evaluation findings.

A publication that includes the data collected from actual research, experiments, or observations.

An empirical publication includes an abstract, introductions, literature review, methodology, results, implications, conclusions, and references.

When writing your empirical publication, use the results of any qualitative or quantitative data you collected, especially if you were able to demonstrate specific causal results from your experimental design.

Example empirical publication


For an audience who is interested in a program or organization, often serving as a primary link—sometimes the only link—between an audience and the program.


An informative publication that is written and distributed on a regular basis (monthly, quarterly) and contains updated information about the program or cause.

Can vary in length and contain graphics showing data results, pictures, and other items of visual interest.

Keep the distribution schedule regular so those receiving it begin to expect and look forward to receiving it.

Additional suggestions when developing your newsletter

Example newsletter


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A written report may be a project requirement or the best way to communicate information to a specific audience. However, many people learn best by sharing or seeing information. Giving a presentation can provide a valuable opportunity for the evaluator to interact with the intended audience and for the audience to ask questions.

Oral or Visual Reports




Main Components




To display key presentation points in order to enhance understanding, illustrate ideas, and break down complex concepts into simpler ones.

PowerPoint is presentation software that allows you to create slides, handouts, notes and outlines that enhance your oral presentation. It is the most common type of public presentation.

A presentation includes a title, purpose, objectives, background, findings, and recommendations.

Text should be minimized on each visual by using six to eight words per line and six to eight lines per visual. Be sure your equipment works, the lighting is appropriate, and the colors and text are readable.

Additional tips for creating a presentation


For large events like fairs or conferences. A good way to network, put information into people’s hands, and create awareness among large audiences.

Display boards or an arrangement of materials and publications about your program usually set out on a table or in a booth.

Should include a title, several bulleted statements that convey your message, photographs, and/or illustrations.

Exhibits that have a gimmick are most successful at attracting an audience. “Make and take” activities, free gifts, and candy are attractions that draw people to the exhibit.

More tips on developing your exhibit

News Release

To raise public interest in a study or evaluation you have conducted.

Interesting, news worthy summary that is sent to newspapers, radio, and television stations, highlighting only the most important details of your evaluation or study.

Begin with the most important information, using an eye-catching message. Use quotes by program principals or participants that draw attention to important information. Include the name, phone number, and address of a contact person so reporters can follow up and verify information.

The news release should end with “###.” This symbol will alert the reporter that the news release is finished.

Example news release


For advertising programs, creating awareness, and piquing the interest of people interested in the results of your study.

A visually interesting board or placard that is used to promote a single idea, event, a point, or to generate interest.

Should include the name of the program, project, research, organization, the goal of the project, the findings from the research, etc. Should also contain bright pictures, photos, and graphics along with sound bites and interactive features.

Use questions (not just statements or pictures) to initiate an interaction with people. They entice people to find out more.

Different colors affect the eye differently. Bright colors can help attract attention resulting in higher response rates.

Example poster


You can find a printable PDF version of this table here: Oral or Visual Reports

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