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In my actual work place, we use a one page report with:
-Traffic lights for Overall, Financial, Schedule, Resource, Scope, Risk indicators
-Key Accomplishments (Bright Spots and Hot Spots)
-Schedule Tasks/Milestones (at summary task level or feature level if we are using agile based method)
This might seem obvious, but start out by defining the purpose for providing the status report, and how you need to communicate that message. Are you providing an update that everything is going fine, asking for help, raising risks, etc?
Are you reporting on the status of many smaller projects with a few key data points for each, or are you summarizing a single project in more detail? That can make a big difference in the type of information and how it is organized.
Will you be able to present the status report or must it stand alone such as in an email attachment? If you can talk it, then you can use less wording in the presentation. If not, your key messages must be very apparent.
Help the audience know where to focus. If you are using health stoplights, the audience should be focusing on red and yellow items. Are there key words you need to stand out such as using bold, red font, or new items identified in blue font? If the audience could be distracted by lots of information on the page, make sure the key points stand out.
Don't put anything on there you don't want discussed in detail. I might sometimes show a very complex plan compressed to the point where you can't read it. That is a reminder that there is a lot going on. I don't want people pointing to individual tasks or dates on the plan and derailing the conversation.
Always start with eliciting the information needs of your stakeholders and then look at the best way to meet those. Just because one set of project metrics satisfies the stakeholders at one company doesn't mean they will work for yours.
But it is worth to understand the report audience, as a perception of what is important to get as the status may vary
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