Translating an annual report: multiple disciplines in a single document

Annual reports aren’t exactly the sexiest of documents on the content agenda. Considering the importance of the financial statements in an annual report, people tend to view their translation as a financial one. Logistically speaking, you might assume that a specialised financial translator is the person for the job. However that expert would also have to be a good business translator, as annual reports contain a great deal more information than financial numbers alone.

Blue Lines always employs two native speakers for a translation: a first specialist translates the source text into the target language, and a second specialist compares the translation to the source text. That way, we can guarantee that all necessary subject area knowledge is present in our combined duo.

Operational, financial and sustainability report 

Bigger companies split their annual reports into an operational report and a financial report. Nowadays, a third category often appears: the sustainability report. On the other hand, an integrated annual report incorporates everything into a single comprehensive document. 

Financial report: annual report with balance sheet, income statement and notes 

An annual financial report shows the balance sheet and income statement of an organisation or company. It also provides information about an organisation’s financial statement. An annual report therefore comprises a great deal more than just the numbers that roll out of your accounting program. The numbers, any choices made, and trends are also clarified.

For many (larger) companies, the publication of an annual report is obligatory. This is not the case for sole traders, small private (limited) companies, and general partnerships, although it is certainly allowed, and may help with gaining and providing greater insight.

It goes without saying that a financial report requires expertise, in both the financial and the (corporate) legal fields. A good annual report translator must have a perfect grasp of the exact designations for the different types of companies, business structures, job titles, and more, while also having the necessary knowledge of legislation.

Operational report: Who, What, Why & Where are we going?

The operational report describes the Ws of an organisation: 

  • Who? Not a get-together, but a get-to-know-us. Who are the people behind the numbers? This can be made very personal, with an introduction by the CEO, biographies, and interviews with staff. The shareholder structure can also be outlined schematically or by means of a list. 
  • What? The current and future activities are described here, as well as the regions in which the organisation is active.
  • Why? A mission with a vision. Why do we do what we do? Why is this important to society? What are the driving forces behind it, and what is our vision for the future?
  • Where are we going? Are there strategic partnerships in the pipeline? Personnel changes? What are our short-term and long-term goals? Do we want to market new products or services? Tap into new regions? You can be absolutely sure that all stakeholders will read this part with great interest. 

Sustainability report 

In recent years, the sustainability report has become noticeably more important, as stakeholders increasingly consider the societal and environmental impact of an organisation. The sustainability report can be included in the general annual report or be published as a separate document. Here too, the current situation and long-term goals concerning Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) can be discussed.

International business = unbounded information 

Businesses with international stakeholders have their annual reports translated into the working languages of the company. After all, it’s only fair that stakeholders want to stay informed about the financial situation and prospects of the organisation in their own language. Here at Blue Lines, we are often asked to translate annual reports within the language combinations Dutch, French, English, and German (which are ubiquitous in Belgium). 


The annual report as a PR tool 

Let’s go back to the start for a second: Annual reports aren’t exactly the sexiest of documents on the content agenda. Despite this, many organisations these days see their annual report as one of their most important PR publications, and they put a great deal of effort into the contents and design of the document. The annual report can give stakeholders a preview of future activities, developments, and strategic partnerships. If you wish to, or are obliged to present an annual report anyway, you might as well make it a thing of beauty. 

In addition to common PR resources, such as press releases and media publicity, the annual report can be used as a powerful tool to inform and motivate both external stakeholders and internal employees when it comes to future plans. With a strong document, you can attract those you need to reach your goals. So, write compelling content


Strictly confidential 

An annual report is a strictly confidential document before publication. At Blue Lines, all of our translators, copywriters and co-workers are subject to a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA). Do you have your own NDA ready? Don’t hesitate to send it to us. You can sleep easy in the knowledge that the contents of your annual report are in safe hands. 


Customer experiences 

Every year, Blue Lines translates annual reports for multiple organisations from a wide range of sectors. Our customers imec, Recupel and Duo for a Job share their experiences. 


The key considerations when translating an annual report, summarised 

As we’ve already mentioned, translating an annual report isn’t just about financial insight, it also calls for excellent writing and good management know-how. A solid business understanding is another absolute must, especially for an integrated annual report. When it comes to using the annual report as an important PR tool, what you need is an inspiring and motivational writing style to get stakeholders involved in your story. 

Entrust the copywriting and translation of your annual report to our seasoned Blue Lines experts. Smooth and concise content really does work, in every language.