This site uses cookies so that we can provide you with the best possible user experience. We do not store any personal details. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

Investor Friendly standard for annual report PDF

Investor friendly PDF standard


The PDF format is now the main digital distribution channel for corporate reporting. It is fitting that more attention needs to be paid to its structure and how it is used by investors. Extensive research by PortAlchemy, The Financial Reporting Lab and others has shown there is a wide variation in the standard of PDF produced by listed companies.

We invite companies to add this standard to their reporting PDFs for the benefit of their investors and other stakeholders.

Overview PDF    Overview PDF (printer friendly version)

The four elements

The four elements of the standard are readability, usability, openness, and interactivity. There are two levels reflecting a company’s ability to implement the standard.

Investor friendly

The company declares how many of the elements the financial report PDF adheres to and makes a commitment to adhere to as many of the elements of the standard in the future. This reassures investors that the company is conscious of their needs and is striving to meet them. The company may elect to publish what parts of the standard they are adhering to.

Investor friendly certified

The PDF has been verified by PortAlchemy as being Investor Friendly and adheres to all ‘mandatory elements’ of the standard. The standard reassures investors that every effort has been made by the company to produce a digital version of the annual report to the best usable standard.


Colour contrast: There should be sufficient contrast of colour between text and background for on screen reading. Consideration should be given to differing screen qualities.

Text sizes and fonts: Companies must bear in mind the amount of zooming that may occur due to differing font sizes and layouts.

Small columns: The use of many small width columns can make it difficult to read content on screen due to excessive re-scrolling.

Sub-headings: Large columns of text without sub-headings are difficult to focus on. Make sure sub-heading structures are clear and consistent.

Tables: Print authors should use ‘cellular’ based tables rather than ‘tab’ tables. This helps to maintain the structure of the table when copying content.


Page view: The PDF should be able to be viewed as a single page or as a double page spread.

Content order: Content should be able to be copied and pasted correctly by investors into their own applications.

Indexes: They should be consistent at the front and throughout the report. If numbers are on the right then they should stay on the right in all indexes.

Page numbering: Change the page numbers of the PDF to match the printed page numbers. It is recommended that page numbers should be at the top of the page to minimise scrolling.

Printing: Special attention should be paid to charts, graphics and captions to make sure they make sense in black and white.

Printer friendly PDF: The PDF should be printer friendly. Where this is not possible a printer friendly version of the PDF should also be provided although this is not a prerequisite for the standard*. Content should print in black and white. Important information should not appear on ‘ink heavy’ pages where such allowances have not been made.


Restrictions: An annual report PDF should not have any restrictions on its usage. Printing, Document Assembly, Content Copying, Page Extraction and Commenting should all be allowed by default.

Addendums: Any changes made to the PDF after the official publication date should be listed on the website or on an additional page at the rear of the PDF. The addendum should show what has changed, when and by whom.


Internal references: If internal references are used in the printed report then these should be made active links in the PDF.

Live indexes: Indexes should be made live with actual links to relevant pages. Links to external resources should be made clear.

Bookmarks: In the absence of any interactivity, a bookmark index should be made available. The names of the bookmarks should be relevant to the page.

Navigation panel: This should be provided in the absence of any other interactivity.

Investor Friendly: Logo application

At the end of the self service application you will receive and individually numbered Investor Friendly logo which you can apply to your PDF and download areas of your website.

Registration is free and you only need to do it once. Once this has been verified you will have access to the application procedure.

Each application costs £150. You can either pay by PayPal, BACS, or cheque.

Registration Application

Investor Friendly: Certified

One step further you may wish to take is the ‘Investor Friendly Certified’ standard. Simply provide us with your PDF and it will be independently checked. You will be given a score with a list of things to do, if necessary, to make it 100% compliant. If you decide to make your PDF 100% compliant, we will check it again and update your rating. The first re-check is included within the price.

You do not need to register to use this service.
This service costs £750 and is completed by next working day.

Certified application

If you have any further questions please go to our Q&A. Thank you.