As a follow-up to my article yesterday on real estate investment trusts (REITs), I'd like to point out that NAREIT recently released its list of the best annual reports in the REIT industry. The report is a great list for income investors to use as a starting point for learning about REITs across the diverse segments of the REIT spectrum.

It's important to note upfront that the report is not a list of REITs recommended for purchase. Nor am I recommending them for purchase. This is purely about highlighting companies that do a good job of communicating with their shareholders.

NAREIT has separated the awards into large capitalization ($1.6 billion and larger), mid capitalization ($500 million to $1.6 billion), and small capitalization (below $500 million). Within each capitalization range, gold, silver, and bronze awards were given in the categories of management discussion and analysis; presentation and design; and website. For those scoring at home, that's 27 total awards -- and a nice starting place for reading up on REITs.

The great thing about reading up on some of the award winners is the variety of REIT sectors covered. For apartment REITs there is Archstone-Smith (NYSE:ASN), in hotels Strategic Hotel Capital (NYSE:SLH), and, in the mortgage REIT category, iStarFinancial (NYSE:SFI) was a winner. In the world of mall and retail REITs, large cap Simon Group (NYSE:SPG) and small cap UrstadtBiddle Properties (NYSE:UBA) (NYSE:UBP) were both winners.

For an investor, the category winners of the most interest are likely to be in the management discussion and analysis category, but all of the companies are worth checking out -- if for no other reason than to be exposed to a few new ideas.

For more REIT-related Foolishness, check out:

iStar Financial is a Motley Fool Income Investor selection. Consider taking a free trial of the newsletter to see other REITs that are past selections, as well. If you're not satisfied, we'll give your money back. No questions asked.

Nathan Parmelee has no financial interest in any of the companies mentioned. You can view his profile here. The Motley Fool has an iron-clad disclosure policy.