Main types of articles

An audit of the ONS website identified two main purposes for articles: to provide analysis and to provide information. There are seven types of article within these categories:

Analysis articles

  • in-depth analysis
  • cross-cutting analysis
  • review
  • commentary
  • digital content article (email DigitalContent@ons.gov.uk for information on this content type)

Information articles

  • methodology changes
  • progress report

Article sections

Article sections separate the different types of content on the page. Consistency is important for our users, so we should aim to use standard section headings where possible.

We have created recommended structures for each of the article types based on research.

Article type Description Recommended structure
In-depth analysis  (template (Word, 169KB)) An in-depth look at a topic using new or experimental data Main points

Labelled analysis section(s) 

[Topic] data 

Glossary

Data sources and quality

Future developments

Related links

Cite this article

Cross-cutting analysis (template (Word, 169KB)) Broader analysis formed from linking separate data and topics  Main points

Labelled analysis section

[Topic] data

Glossary

Data sources and quality

Future developments

Related links

Cite this article

Review (template (Word, 169KB)) A retrospective examination of previously published data from a different angle Main points

Labelled analysis section(s)

[Topic] data

Glossary

Data sources and quality 

Future developments

Related links

Cite this article

Commentary (template (Word, 169KB)) Commentary on trends found in thematically linked bulletins published on the same day Main points

Overview of [topic] 

Labelled analysis section(s)

Related links

Cite this article

Methodology changes (template (Word, 169KB)) Explanation of how recent or upcoming changes in methodology affect data or findings Main changes

Overview of [method or topic]

Labelled section per change

Future developments

Related links

Cite this article

Progress report (template (Word, 169KB)) Description of a project, programme or roadmap, or an update on any progress, changes or developments Overview of project or changes

Labelled section per bullet 

Future developments

Related links

Cite this article

Digital content article Short articles on a timely topic that are collaboratively written with the Digital Content team and focus on visual representation of data Email DigitalContent@ons.gov.uk to find out more about Digital content articles and how to commission them.

 

Article templates

Download one of our templates to help you draft your article. We have created templates for the different article types:

We are constantly improving our guidance based on research, so there may be some small changes to the guidance; we will keep you updated with any significant changes on the Updates page.

Next section: Article titles and summaries

Digital content articles

Digital content articles are collaboratively written with the Digital Content team and aim to improve the interest and understanding of the citizen audience rather than experts.  

Digital content articles: 

  • are usually on a timely topic 
  • are written for the inquiring citizen user persona 
  • range from 1,000 to 3,000 words, with minimal chart notes 
  • feature visualisations designed to be easily embedded in news websites 
  • are mostly standalone, rather than part of a series 

Digital content articles have a conversational approach. Complicated concepts are explained simply, with the inquiring citizen user in mind. They contain analysis and commentary rather than method. 

This article type does not suit content which require substantial methodological detail or navigation between sections. Use other article templates instead. 

Structure and navigation 

Digital content articles read more like stories with a beginning, middle and end. They do not feature: 

  • a table of contents 
  • main points 
  • numbered sections 
  • numbered charts 
  • methodology or quality sections

Title and headings 

Titles are shorter than other statistical releases and focus on the main findings. They do not include time periods or geography. In contrast to statistical bulletins and articles, they can be descriptive rather than labels.   

Bulletin title: Coronavirus and the social impacts on Great Britain: 22 October 2021 

Digital content article title: Eight in ten adults think social distancing is important – but four in ten actually do it 

Digital content article titles can be written as questions, such as How green is your street?  

Each section heading will be descriptive of a main finding. Users will be able to see a narrative from reading the section headings alone.  

Tools and automation

Digital content articles make greater use of tools such as calculators and interactive maps.

Some articles contain elements of semi-automated journalism that allow people to select a variable, such as a geographic area, to get a more personal story. This is known as “robo-journalism”.

One example is the article Age of the property is the biggest single factor in energy efficiency of homes. This has a postcode look-up tool that displays a few lines of basic comparative text about the selected area, for example “Fareham is above average in England for…”

Scrollytelling

“Scrollytelling” articles make greater use of graphics and interactive elements, with minimal supporting text. Users view a continuous visualisation, triggering interactions as they scroll.

In the example of the article Mapping regional differences in productivity and household income, users scroll down a page featuring an interactive map. Accompanying text pulls out the main trends and the user can select different areas on the map to see data.

Qualitative data

Articles based on qualitative data focus on the human impact and may feature quotes predominately.

The lasting impact of violence against women and girls uses quotes provided by third-sector organisations to provide qualitative context.

Email digitalcontent@ons.gov.uk to find out more about digital content articles.