Exploring the use and users of narrative reporting in the online annual report

N. Rowbottom*, Andrew Lymer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose-The purpose of this paper is to explore who uses narrative reporting information contained within online corporate annual reports and assess the relative use of different types of narrative information. Design/methodology/approach-Web server logs were used to analyse over one million instances where information is successfully delivered to users of the corporate web sites of 15 FTSE 350 companies. Findings-The most frequent users of the online annual report are, respectively, private individuals, those registered under internet service providers, employees and professional investors/creditors. The results suggest that those with greater experience and expertise in preparing and using financial accounts adopt different information preferences with respect to the online annual report. Although experienced users such as professional investors, creditors and accounting firms use the annual report to download predominantly detailed financial accounting data, the widespread availability and accessibility of the online annual report allows narratives to provide a source of general company information for employees and a wider stakeholder audience. Originality/value-The paper presents the first large-scale survey into the use and users of online annual reports.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)90-108
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Applied Accounting Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 14 Sept 2010


  • Annual reports
  • Internet
  • Large enterprises
  • Narratives
  • Online reporting
  • United Kingdom


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