The arrangement and division of the volumes in this publication reflects the successive changes in title, method of publication, and type of report. The arrangement is as follows:
Volume 1 contains the early reports from 1841-1844 before the system of annual reports was started; it also contains all the reports for 1844-1886, during which period the reports were published as one section of the omnibus "Reports exhibiting the past and present state of Her Majesty's colonial possessions".
Volume 2 contains the reports from 1887-1903, during which period colonial reports were published separately and not in a compendium. The title changed with the 1890 report but the form of the contents remained the same. There are two separate reports for the New Territories in this volume.
Volume 3 contains the reports from 1903-1919, continuing the particular sequence from Volume 2.
Volume 4 contains the reports from 1920-1930, during which period the form and title remained the same as for the years 1890-1919, but the publisher changed from the House of Commons to the Colonial Office through the agency of HM Stationery Office. Volume 4 also contains the Historical and Statistical Abstract of the Colony of Hong Kong 1841-1930.
Volume 5 contains the reports from 1931-1939, during which period the form (for all) and the publisher (up to 1938) were the same as for the period 1920-1930 but the title was changed to "Annual Report on the Social and Economic Progress of the People of Hong Kong".
Volume 6: no composite annual report was written for 1940/41 or 1941/42, but we do have certain departmental annual reports (viz: medical; education; botanical; prisons) and financial estimates, and these have been reproduced. At the end of this period, the worsening of the war situation prevented the preparation of any further reports until the beginning of British Military Administration in August 1945.