Author Archives: Amelia Jones

Datasets

  • Use a simple table structure with clear headings and subheadings.
  • Avoid splitting or merging cells.
  • Avoid using colour to convey information: where you have to use colour, make sure the contrast meets WCAG AA standard.
  • Use the built-in accessibility checker in Excel to identify and fix any accessibility issues.
  • If publishing tables in PDF format or HTML, make sure a downloadable XLS version of the data is available and clearly signposted.

The Government Statistical Service (GSS) provides detailed guidance on releasing statistics in spreadsheets.

We are constantly improving based on research and best practice. Any significant changes to our guidance are available on the Updates page.

Data sources and quality

Provide a summary of important quality and methodology information about your article in a Data sources and quality section. This section should only be included in analysis articles, as it is unlikely that information articles will contain data. Using a standard heading for this section will create consistency for users and help identify articles from other content types, such as statistical bulletins.

Highlight any important information about the data source and collection method, as well as any caveats about the quality of the data. Use clear subheadings to break up the content and guide users through the information by topic. For example, use subheadings such as Data collection, Sample size, and Comparability with other sources.

Keep this section brief and link to any existing methodology information using clearly written link text rather than duplicating the content and increasing the word count for your article.

Using charts and tables

Analysis articles

Simple charts and tables can often convey a trend in the analysis more clearly than a dense paragraph of text. Your surrounding text should add to your visuals, not just report what they show. It is not necessary to comment on every trend shown in a chart or table.

Use descriptive chart titles

Chart titles and subtitles should be concise, sentence case and in plain English. The main title should be descriptive, and tell the trend of the data or highlight the main story. Our chart title guidance provides more detailed information on how to write descriptive chart titles.

Keep your tables focused

Tables can be used to present trends in the data alongside your analysis and allow users to easily compare data. Column headings should be clear, concise and written in house style.

Avoid including too much information in your tables as this is likely to overwhelm users. Limit the number of columns to be fewer than nine as this is the maximum number of columns that we can create.

Information articles

All charts should be interactive where possible but occasionally you may need to include a diagram  in an information article to help visually explain a process.

Before deciding to use a diagram, identify the user need. Consider if the user need can be met solely by clearly written text. If you have too much information to communicate, a diagram is unlikely to be useful to users. If you can describe the diagram in a short paragraph, use text instead.

Any diagrams included in your article must have a clear user need and be created by our in-house Design team. This is to make sure they are accessible and in line with our design principles. More detailed guidance on the use of diagrams is available.

Warnings

Warning patterns are used to highlight essential data limitations to the user. They are associated with new releases of data and should only be used in bulletins. Include any information about the quality or accuracy of the data in the Data sources and quality section and provide a brief summary in the main text or analysis. 

If you need to highlight that the analysis or data are experimental, you can do this in the summary and include a subsection called “Experimental Statistics” in the Data sources and quality section.

Next: View the article types and how to structure them

Annexes and Appendices

These sections are traditionally used to provide additional or supplementary information, but they often duplicate content. Including these sections in online articles makes the pages longer and increases the amount of scrolling for users.

If the information in your annex or appendix is available on another page, use clearly written hyperlinks to link to the page instead of duplicating the information. If the appendix is lengthy and contains additional analysis or data, consider publishing it as a separate article that can be linked to from the article.

References

Reference sections do not work well online as they involve a lot of scrolling for users, who can easily lose their place. They should be avoided where possible. Using hyperlinks within your text is best practice for web writing and helps users get to any information they need without having to scroll.

Only include a references section if the publications you need to reference are offline and cannot be linked to. If there are only a couple of offline references that you need to link to, include these as footnotes to the relevant section rather than as a separate section. This keeps the reference with the content it relates to and prevents users having to scroll, but avoid using footnotes where possible as they are not very accessible.

Follow our guidance for writing accessible reference sections if your users need you to include one.