Apostrophes

Only use apostrophes to show possession.

Please use Sarah’s statistics
Refer to last month’s data

Possession

The apostrophe shows that something is owned by someone. For example, the Statistician’s Office is the office owned by the Statistician. Depending on who is doing the owning, the apostrophe is used differently.

If the possessor is singular, use an apostrophe followed by “s”.

The report’s contents (contents belonging to the report)
The statistician’s opinion (opinion belonging to the statistician)

If the possessor is singular and ends in s, use an apostrophe followed by “s”.

James’s driving test
ONS’s web standards

If the possessor is plural and doesn’t end in s, use an apostrophe followed by “s”.

The women’s average salary
The department’s staff

If the possessor is plural and ends in s, use an apostrophe after “s”.

The statistics’ source
The statisticians’ discussion

Contractions

Contractions should not be used. They are hard to read and are not accessible for all users, particularly those with learning difficulties or those who speak English as an additional language.

“We do not use this method on all surveys” not “We don’t use this method on all surveys”
“It is clear that no change has occurred” not “It’s clear that no change has occurred”