African Organisation of English-speaking Supreme Audit Institutions

Making Clear Simple Graphics

Producing reports for Parliament on the value for money of public services presents a significant challenge. To be successful, our reports must be easily understood and designed to make an impact.There is no scope, within the brief window of a Public Accounts Committee hearing, for Members of Parliament to spend time analysing and interpreting the findings contained in daunting pages of dense text. The reports must spell out concise messages which are clear and unequivocal.

Typically for VFM work, this involves distilling large amounts of technical information and jargon into a short and structured narrative which someone with no expert knowledge of the subject can readily understand – a challenging process, made more complicated by the requirement to agree in detail the factual accuracy and balance of our reports with the audited body. But words are not the only – or even the best – means of conveying a compelling message in a short space of time. The use of tables, charts and images is essential if we are to communicate our evidence, findings and conclusions in a clear and attractive way that increases understanding and allows the reader to absorb lots of information in a short space of time. For busy people, such as MPs and Accounting Officers, effective graphics and the judicious use of design are a necessity in order to get the message across quickly, convincingly and in a way that is memorable.