Writing your analysis

Once you’ve compiled the regular sections, the rest of your bulletin will consist of analysis of your data, containing only top-level information and essential analysis.

We recommend including no more than three or four analytical sections in order to keep your bulletin concise and focused.

Naming your sections

Each of your analytical sections should have a descriptive title that will tell the user a story at first glance. A good title will have an active verb, be a snappy, single sentence and encourage the user to read on. A generic title, such as “Introduction” or “June figures” is flat and uninformative.

Telling a story 

A good heading almost reads like a newspaper headline, and tells a complete story in itself.

England sees growth in private rental prices while Wales and Scotland remain static 

Labour productivity up in the first quarter of 2016, but the productivity puzzle remains

Asking a question

Alternatively, you can grab the reader’s attention by raising a question that will compel the reader to read your analysis in order to learn the answer.

What has driven the change to the long-term trend of falling producer prices?

At what age are people getting married?

Turning your data into a narrative

When writing a section, follow our guidance on writing for the web. Your text should be in concise, plain English and written with the user in mind.

Your analysis will expand upon the narrative established in your main points, giving the user more detail and context. When deciding what to write, consider what is the most important information that supports your main points, otherwise it can be left out of your bulletin. Users can still find the data in datasets and further detail can be explored in an accompanying article.

The first paragraph of each section must contain the most important fact. Use further paragraphs and figures to add more detail and context to broaden the user’s understanding.

Introduction: Productivity – as measured by output per hour – grew by 0.5% in Quarter 1 (Jan to Mar) 2016.  This leaves productivity 0.2% higher compared with Quarter 1 2008, just before the recent economic downturn.

Second paragraph: Quarterly growth of 0.5% is equal to the 1994 to 2007 average – but taken together with recent, weaker quarters, there is little sign of an end to the UK’s “productivity puzzle”.

Introduction to figure: This puzzle is illustrated by Figure 1, which shows two alternative measures of productivity – output per hour and output per worker – alongside their projected 1994 to 2007 trends.

Use of visual elements

Charts and interactive products

Use charts in bulletins to deliver a clear message visually. If a chart doesn’t tell its own “story”, consider whether it’s really needed. Annotating a chart can help add context to the data and reduce the need for text elsewhere.

Use interactive charts and maps sparingly when they can bring an extra dimension to your data. Contact the ONS Data Visualisation Centre on datavis@ons.gov.uk for advice and guidance on interactive charts.

Tables

Tables can capture a great deal of data but often aren’t the clearest or most transparent way of presenting the statistics or telling the story, such as a chart. If the user does want all of the data, they can download it. Only uses tables in your bulletin if there is a strong justification for doing so.

Further reading