In This Chapter
Defining the purpose of your report
Deciding what your report should include
Linking a report to a database
Laying out a report
Conveying the right message
No book can tell you in a step-by-step manner exactly how to build the report you want. However, in this chapter, I show you some general principles of good report design as well as some common types of reports. From those general principles and examples, you can decide how best to design reports that meet your specific needs.
An effective report design depends on many factors:
The data that the report draws from the database
How the database is structured
The level of detail that the users of the report require
The purpose of the report
The capabilities of the computer that displays or prints the report
What the users of the report really need (understanding this is critical)
Every report has a definite audience. Here's a key question to ask when you begin to develop any report: "Who will be reading this report?"
Some potential audience members might be familiar with the information that the report contains. These people might prefer a streamlined presentation of the data. Other audience members might be unfamiliar with the report content, so you might have to translate terms, use graphical devices (such as charts), and include explanatory text. If you have two such divergent audiences, consider producing two reports. Both contain the ...