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Narrative Report Writing 10 - Layout Enhancements

by Administrator on Feb 24, 2014 Narrative Writing 3210 Views

Based on what I have seen over the last year or so the trend in report writing appears to be toward the use of more color and more graphics in appraisal reports.  The plain, clean black and white reports that I have always favored are now becoming what you would expect to receive from a stock market brokers offering for an initial public offering (IPO).

Apparently many appraisers have reached the point where they feel it has become generally accepted that the research and data used in a appraisal report cannot on its own differentiate its quality, now a reports have to look better than a competitors. 

It's my intention to provide readers of this article with a few examples of appraisal report layout enhancements and show you I see reports becoming visually better.  If you decide to join the movement I can show you what you can do to improve the looks of your own report.


Before you open a report you need to ask yourself, are you impressed with how the appraisal firm presented itself via its cover page?  How does your cover page compare?  As much as you may resist the feeling and tell yourself that it makes no difference, I would argue that you are wrong if you think that clients are not paying any attention to the cover of your "book," because they are.

Since this may be the only page many see, yes some people will decide about your report without reading the content, you may want to spend some time on the design.  The layout displayed above was provided by Microsoft via its Word template area and slightly modified.


Drawing a black box around a table with standard rows and columns to draw attention to it was the extent of most formatting by me and many other appraisers in the past.  Not so much anymore, tables are being enhanced with color and color shading.  If done right you can bring attention to a somewhat boring table or series of tables.  It doesn't make the content better but sometimes lipstick can be an improvement if you are not working with bovine creatures.

Tables, like other report insertions, look netter. If tables are consistently created in Excel and then pasted into the report they will again enhance the report and provide continuity.


If you have time it's best to create new graphs using Excel or another program and then try to give them all a consistent look.  If you cut and paste graphs from four different sources directly into your appraisal reports your readers will not appreciate the transitions.  Font size changes and layout changes will break your reports continuity.


Pages closed by upper and lower horizontal lines or entirely closed from all four sides is what I have seen, in my opinion it's a way of making less look like more since only about 60% to 70% of the text that fits on a normal typed page fits within a page with a boundary.


The best way for you to let everyone know that they are looking at your work is to have a logo or text identifier on each and every page.  Using logos extensively in appraisal reports also appears to be a trend.  I have been using my information on every page for about 5 years and I have acquired one or two assignments because of it.

You can use your logo on any page corner of your report or along the entire top or bottom.  I have even seen reports where the appraiser used the entire left or right margin for their logo or shaded name (watermark), which in theory makes it even more difficult for others to copy or rewrite.   

Not to be left behind or outdone by my competition, I have started down the advanced presentation road with my reports.  Both MS Excel and MS Word offer great ways to accent tables, report pages and even to design cover sheets.  It may not be the route that some appraisers will want to take because I know that it's easier for appraisers to write their reports the same way that they have for years than to make the effort to change and enhance, but I'm telling you in no uncertain terms that side-by-side your reports are going to begin to look amateurish when compared to your competitors who complete ever more professional looking reports, so don't say that no one clued you in.  This is your wake-up call!

There is nothing wrong with copying enhancements from the work of other appraisers or other professional report, just be smart enough to use your own colors and a different format from that you see.  Look at it and decide what you like and what you don't like and try to make yours as good or better.  Make the design / layout distinctly your own.

For more appraisal information contact Glenn Rigdon MA, MRICS, ASA is a Las Vegas / Henderson Nevada appraiser who can be contacted via email or via his business website Appraiser Las Vegas  (, or you can also click on “Contact Us” on the home page of this website or visit my public profile at LinkedIn at  

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