Dataset titles and summaries

Dataset titles

Dataset titles should describe what the dataset contains. They should:

  • be frontloaded (with the most important information first)
  • be short – aim for 60 characters including spaces
  • not include acronyms – put these in the keywords
  • not include the word “dataset”

If you have one dataset, use the same title as the publication (but without the data period) for consistency.

The Public sector employment, UK: June 2020 bulletin is published with the Public sector employment dataset.

If you have multiple datasets, make sure the titles are clear and concise so that users can easily distinguish between them.

The Baby names in England and Wales: 2019 bulletin is published with the following datasets:

Dataset summaries

The “About this dataset” section of a dataset page provides users with a brief summary of what they can expect to find in the Excel downloads.

This summary should be clear, concise and frontloaded. It should contain the geographical coverage (if it is not already in the title) and the frequency of the data (for example, annual, quarterly, monthly).

Annual burglary data from the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW). Data include when incidents happened, information about offenders, the victim’s perception of the incident, and what items were stolen.

Important notes and usage information

Important usage information for your data can be added to the main dataset page. This should be limited to essential points your user needs to be aware of when interpreting your data. 

This section can include:

  • a summary of important main points if the data will not be released alongside a bulletin or article 
  • warnings or limitations for using the data

Formatting a dataset

Finding out what format your users need your data in is the best approach to providing a data download. Depending on the size of your data, datasets can be provided as XLS or CSV. If you are looking to use a compressed version of a large amount of data, a CSV file is best for this – but bear in mind that CSV files are designed to be read by machines and do not allow any formatting.

Large datasets can be provided as a zip file so that they can easily be uploaded to our content management system.

Datasets should have a unique, lowercase file name, using dashes instead of spaces or underscores between words. The file name should make it clear what is included in the data download so that it makes sense to users out of context.

Tabs 

  • Use sensible tab names and ensure the file opens on the first tab to avoid confusion.
  • Include contact details and the date of the next update on the first tab.
  • Separate tables out onto individual worksheets for easy navigation.
  • Remove blank tabs and extra spaces from the start or end of tab names.

Table structure

  • Use a simple table structure with clear headings and subheadings.
  • Use clear and consistent titles across all tables for straightforward data usability.
  • Do not split or merge cells as this affects accessibility.
  • Do not hide or use blank rows or columns, instead adjust the column width and row height to create space. 
  • Avoid including images and charts.

Do not use colour in a table to convey meaning that is not shown in another way, as this can make the text hard to read and distinguish from the background. This can cause accessibility issues for users with low vision or who have difficulty with colour contrast.

Codes and symbols

  • Use nationally recognised classifications, such as geography codes, and keep users updated with any changes to these where possible.
  • If you are using symbols for communicating uncertainty, include a guide to explain to users what each of these mean.  
  • Add codes and symbols in a separate column to the data.
  • Avoid using indentation to show geographic hierarchy. 

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

Read more on best practice on dataset accessibility.

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