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Chapter 20. Reporting > Designing Reports

Designing Reports

In the bad old days of mainframe computing, the only access the average person had to the data stored in a computer system was by way of reams of green and white paper. If the report wasn't exactly what you wanted, you were out of luck. With a lead time of as much as a year to have a new report designed, you did the best you could with what you had. I'm (just barely) old enough to remember those “reports”; if you're not, trust me, they were perfectly awful.

Then came personal computers, and dreams of the paperless office. It's such a wonderful idea, but there are practical and physical problems. Most people still prefer to read hard copy rather than a display. Many people find typing less pleasant than writing. (Large portions of this manuscript were written with a fountain pen, and all of it was edited that way.) And almost everybody wants to be able to annotate documents. We write notes in the margin; we scribble and draw arrows; we use a highlighter or underline passages.


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