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Limit the Number of Pages in a Report

Aim for 1-7 pages per report.

The number of pages in your report can influence your audience's perception of the report before viewing it:

  • A smaller number of pages can indicate a quick and easy-to-understand report.
  • A larger number of pages can indicate a complex report that requires several study sessions. [1]
“Less

The fewer pages in a report, the easier it is for your audience to remember content on each of the pages.

If your data story needs more than 6 or 7 pages to tell in its entirety, create multiple reports that each have a few pages. Then, link the primary report to several secondary reports, as needed, for additional details. [5]

“Less

For example, a report about sales and marketing can have pages about the marketing effort and its effect on sales. The primary report links to two secondary reports: one report with information for the sales audience and another report with information for the marketing team. [4] You can use this same technique to link from a high-level report to target reports with detailed content.

“Each
Each page in a report should stand on its own.

Spreading data across multiple pages in a report - when that data should be kept together - can undercut data comprehension. [3] Focus each page on communicating one point, or answering a single question, that advances your audience along in your data story. [5]

Be aware that, as your audience reads through the report, their memory and interpretative skills can be overwhelmed. [1] Do not require your audience to remember content from one page to the next. Help them understand what they are viewing by providing titles. [5]

“Titles
Titles aid comprehension and provide visual hierarchy.
“Each
Each page should concentrate on a single idea.

Mobile in mind

Reports with fewer pages are faster to download on mobile networks, and they open faster, too. [6] Report linking can also filter the data shown in the secondary report. The viewers download only the target reports applicable to them. It saves time and device storage. [7]

“Smaller

Learn More

Want to dig deeper? The recommendations in this section are based on the following resources as well the experience of SAS consultants and employees.

  1. Coyle, C. L., Malek, M., Mayse, C., Patil, V., & Shell, S. "Data Can Be Beautiful: Crafting a Compelling Story with SAS Visual Analytics." In Proceedings of the SAS Global Forum 2017 Conference. April 5, 2017. ↩︎

  2. Baldonado, M.Q.W., Woodruff, A., & Kuchinsky, A. "Guidelines for using multiple views in information visualization." In Proceedings of the Working Conference on Advanced Visual Interfaces. May 24 - 26, 2000. ↩︎

  3. Few, S. (2013). Information Dashboard Design: Displaying Data for At-a-glance Monitoring (2nd ed.). Available on Amazon ↩︎

  4. Snavely, E. "Nine Best Practices for Big Data Dashboards Using SAS Visual Analytics." In Proceedings of the SAS Global Forum 2017 Conference. April 5, 2017. ↩︎

  5. Sookne, J., Summers, E., Langston, J., and Mobley, K. "If You Build It, Will They Understand?" In Proceedings of the SAS Global Forum 2016 Conference. April 21, 2016. ↩︎

  6. Mobley, K. L., Hogan, R., and Phadke, P. "Designing SAS Visual Analytics Reports: Write Once, View Anywhere." In Proceedings of the SAS Global Forum 2016 Conference. April 21, 2016.↩︎

  7. Mandavilli, L., and Chitale, A. "Carry-On Suitcases and Mobile Devices: Using SAS Visual Analytics Designer for Creating Optimally Designed Reports for SAS Mobile BI." In Proceedings of the SAS Global Forum 2016 Conference. April 21, 2016.↩︎