Long reports use section dividers to guide readers

For longer reports, some firms insert pages that do no more than tell when the topic of the following section is changing. We will refer to these as section dividers. Where you find section dividers, the report typically has 40 or more pages and therefore has the heft to justify guideposts for readers. About the only characteristics section dividers have in common is that they occupy a full-page, present minimal text, and color the page to stand out. Consider a few examples.

Allen Overy Innovative 2012 [pg. 13] weighs in at a lengthy 56 pages, so it makes sense for it to guide readers regarding its organization. This full-page snippet shows one of the 13 dividers, not-so-subtly suggesting the start of the first section with an enormous “1.” In fact, another section divider precedes this page, in the same dark grey background, but with a large spiral image and no substantive text.

Norton Rose Lit 2016 [pg. 6] has almost as many pages (48). One of its five section dividers, for example, simply says “Methodology and respondent profile” in the grey background rectangle that only section dividers display.  White Case Arbitration 2010 [pg. 8] likewise runs for 48 pages. The divider page in the snippet captures only the top third of a dramatic, swirling whirlpool of fiery colors.

The longest of the reports cited here, at 81 pages, Davies Ward Barometer 2011 [pg. 17] states “In-house counsel profiles by organization type” in two fonts, with a steel-blue background and the page number at the bottom right. Fulbright Jaworski Lit 2008 [pg. 8] adds one page to the length of the Allen Overy study. All ten of its section dividers have the same crimson color with gradient borders, as in the snippet below.

Horizontal dividers

The term divider covers elements of a page that separate text sections and plots, other than blank space. Consider below several horizontal dividers. For all of them one might understandably ask how they improve the clarity, message, or appeal of the page.

Winston Strawn Risk 2013 [pg. 2] immediately below adds a red, dotted, horizontal line in the black box under “CONTENTS.” [On the far left, the vertical line marks the edge of the page; it is not a divider.]

Sometimes you have to look closely to spot a divider. On the image above, from Berwin Leighton ArbAppointees 2017 [pg. 8] a green line precedes the percentage. Does it help the reader?

Another divider appears on the right below, from Morrison Foerster Consumer 2015 [pg. 3]. The faded gray circles add nothing. Perhaps that is why the firm did not return to this demarcation method elsewhere in the report.

Below, appearing at the top of three icons in Paul Hastings China 2013 [pg. 21], the firm placed a solid red horizontal bar in the same color as elsewhere on the page. Several pages of the report have the same column-spanning bar, although not always of the same color.

Dykema Gosset MA 2016 [pg. 4], above, inserts a solid, grey-blue line after the plot (truncated at the axis label for years) and before the following two columns of text.