DVR TIG Week: Johanna Morariu on Visual Reporting & Introducing the DVR Week

Hey there! I’m Johanna Morariu, a Director of Innovation Network and the Co-Chair of the Data Visualization and Reporting TIG. The DVRTIG works to improve the quality of communications through better data visualization and improved approaches to reporting evaluation findings.

What is Visual Reporting? Dataviz, data placemats, infographics, slide reports, and more! Visual reporting differs from traditional reporting by making increased use of shapes and colors to convey information.


Why Visual Reporting? We use visual reporting to grab attention—they focus our audience on what matters. We use visual reporting to clearly communicate. By design, good visual reporting conveys a succinct message and reinforces it with data. Findings are front and center, instead of buried in long, dense text. And we use visual reporting to be engaging in the reporting phase, increasing audience participation when discussing implications and deciding on recommendations.

What are the five elements of Visual Reporting?

  1. Pick a purpose: Clarifying the purpose of your report, including audience and delivery. What is the visual report meant to do? Who is the visual report meant for? Will the visual report be presented or will it speak for itself?
  2. Make a blueprint: Before we dive into putting titles, text, and data on a page, we need to know how it will all fit together. When you make a blueprint, you are sketching out the content and layout of information.
  3. Do good design: We need to pay attention to font, color, contrast, and white space. Good design helps you clearly communicate your data and findings. Use clean, uncomplicated sans serif fonts. Use a color scheme consistently throughout the visual report or visual element. Use headers to use font size consistently and to give the audience a navigation system.
  4. Test: Share your draft with colleagues or friends. Are they able to pick out the main points? Is there information that is unclear to them? What elements could be clarified or improved?
  5. Refine: Before sharing your report with your audience, make sure it is as clean and shiny as possible! Copy edit, format, align, and check all aspects of your design. Do all of your charts use the same size font? Is everything lined up that should be lined up? Is your spacing between elements or paragraphs consistent?

Now you’re ready to share your beautiful, clear visual report!

Rad Resource: Check out our visual report resource guide!


The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Data Visualization and Reporting (DVR) Week with our colleagues in the DVR Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from DVR TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.


4 thoughts on “DVR TIG Week: Johanna Morariu on Visual Reporting & Introducing the DVR Week”

  1. Thank you Johanna for a very useful post. Totally agree with your 5 elements. In my office, for the past couple of years, we have been experimenting with ideas that you along with others (like Stephanie Evergreen and Ann Emery) have given us. I believe what we have learned from you all is helping us improve the quality of our reports. See our most recent reports:

  2. When increasing the use of shapes and colors to convey information, don’t forget to consideration how that information will be conveyed to stakeholders who are blind or have visual impairments.

    1. Hello Lydia, you are very right! There are some basic practices that help in this regard, for example, using fonts that can easily be seen by many people, even with limited vision. Or making sure that the colors that are used contrast well with the background and each other so the text, charts, and other content can be seen as well as possible. Another great approach is to know your audience (when you can) to fine tune your content specifically to the needs of your audience members. Thank you:)

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