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Conclusion

After an introduction dealing with conceptual issues, this contribution has concentrated on the function, structure, content, layout and history of the annual report as a medium of external business communication. I have used the 2013 annual report of British Petroleum as an example of the genre, but the discussion should have made clear that annual reports display enormous variety. Our description would certainly have been different if, instead of a European multinational petroleum company, we had chosen a smaller company from a different sector or from a nonEuropean country with minimal legal disclosure requirements. In such cases, some of the textual functions described here would have featured more prominently while others faded into the background, with concomitant changes at the concrete textual level. Indeed, the annual report turns out to be not only a complex, but also a heterogeneous genre, which continues to combine highly specialized terminology with the most banal propaganda, complex semiotic devices with simple prose, and the use of the newest media with traditional forms of publication.

 
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