Bulletins

Use the standard structure

To ensure consistency for our users, all bulletins should continue to follow our bulletin guidance and use the standard structure. Any coronavirus (COVID-19) information that you need to include should be included within the current structure of the bulletin so that users know where to find it.

Avoid adding extra information sections before the Main points or Analysis sections as this will delay users getting to the analysis. Using clearly written warnings and adding clear subsections to the Measuring the data and Strengths and limitations sections will make the quality information prominent for users without disrupting the analysis.

Use clear warnings

We appreciate that you may need to give important information about how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting the statistics. Warnings can be used to highlight important caveats of the data or changes to the quality. They are designed to stand out from the analysis so that users notice them.

Example

Example of a warning

Warnings should:

  • be fewer than 280 characters
  • be clear (providing too much detail distracts users and interrupts the analysis)
  • be used sparingly (not at the start of a section or one after another)
  • only be used in the Analysis section(s) (or in the Main points if absolutely necessary)
  • not include any links

The shorter the warning, the more effective it will be. If you need to explain the limitations of the data in more detail, expand on these in the Strengths and limitations section under a clear subheading.

We have created some standard warning text that can be used or tweaked where necessary:

“These data are affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in the UK. Take caution when interpreting these data and comparing them with previous time periods. More information is available in the Strengths and limitations section.”

The Content Design team can help you to write short, effective warnings. Email content.design@ons.gov.uk if you want to discuss a warning you are working on.

Add subsections to existing sections

Users rely on the Measuring the data section for information about data sources, collection methods and data quality. If you need to provide more detailed information about the effect the coronavirus is having on your data, include a subheading called “Coronavirus (COVID-19)” at the start of this section.

Keep this subsection short, and use clear link text to signpost to any information that is available elsewhere on the website, for example, in a statement.

We need to make it clear to users what the geographic coverage of the data is. This should be included in the bulletin title but we also need to let users know where they can find data for regions or countries that are not included. If the release only includes data for specific countries of the UK, include a standard subsection in the Measuring the data section as follows:

Accessing other UK countries’ data

This bulletin contains data for [insert countries included] only. This is because of… [provide a short sentence explaining why we only collect data for this country or countries]

The latest data for [insert country] are available in [add name of publication and hyperlink]. Caution should be taken when comparing data from different sources as time periods and methods used may differ.

For example, if your release includes data for England and Wales only, then you should provide a link to data for both Scotland and Northern Ireland in this subsection.

This subsection should be included after the “Coronavirus (COVID-19)” subsection.

If you are not sure how to present any additional coronavirus (COVID-19) information, email content.design@ons.gov.uk.

Headline and data-only releases

If you have a release where the data do not change much from month to month, or there is limited engagement from users, it may be better to:

If you are unsure which structure is best for your release, email content.design@ons.gov.uk.

Articles

Articles can be used to provide more detailed analysis of a topic than a bulletin or to explain changes to methods. 

Best practice for web writing is to use an inverted pyramid style of writing. This means placing information in order of importance, so your main findings and conclusions should come first.

All articles should start with a section that summarises the main trends, analysis or changes detailed in the article. This section should be called “Main points” and include up to six bullet points. The sections that follow should be clearly labelled and organised by topic to help users find the information they need.

Avoid using sections that are traditionally associated with print publications such as “Abstract”, “Executive summary”, “Introduction”,  “Summary” and “Conclusion”. These types of sections slow down users and stop them getting to the analysis. Instead, use short, descriptive labels that reflect the topics of your content. These are much easier for users to quickly scan and take meaning from.

If you would like feedback on your coronavirus article structure or help to write your section headings, email content.design@ons.gov.uk.

Next section: Highlighting quality issues