Abstract : We discuss the problem of building a compiler which can lift in a provably correct way pieces of information on the execution cost of the object code to cost annotations on the source code. To this end, we need a clear and flexible picture of: (i) the meaning of cost annotations, (ii) the method to prove them sound and precise, and (iii) the way such proofs can be composed. We propose a so-called labelling approach to these three questions. As a first step, we examine its application to a toy compiler. This formal study suggests that the labelling approach has good compositionality and scalability properties. In order to provide further evidence for this claim, we report our successful experience in implementing and testing the labelling approach on top of a prototype compiler written in OCAML for (a large fragment of) the C language.