Author Archives: Paul McGarvey

Bulletin titles

Page titles need to be short, clear and reflect the content on the page. 

All bulletin titles must include:

  • the name of the release
  • the geographical coverage
  • the date or period the data cover

Baby names in England and Wales: 2018

A title could include other information such as “provisional” or “final” where appropriate. Insert information like this after the colon and the date, but avoid using extra words like “results” where possible.

Titles should reflect the words users put into search engines. For example, people are much more likely to search for “baby names” than “annual birth registrations”.

Avoid naming bulletins after surveys. For example, users may search for “gender pay gap”, but are less likely to search for “Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings”.

If the page summarises a number of different bulletins in a release, use the word “overview”. For example, Labour market overview

If the data period is quarterly, use the months rather than the quarter name. Some users may not be familiar with quarters or understand the periods they cover. For example, use January to March 2020 instead of Quarter 1 (Jan to Mar) 2020.

Data

The data section links to the most relevant datasets, for the benefit of users who want to access data but may not know where to find the tables they need. 

Provide links to up to five datasets that users are most likely to be interested in. 

When deciding which five to pick, consider:

  • what tasks users who are interested in this topic might want to achieve, and which data might help them
  • which datasets are the most integral to your analysis
  • which datasets get the most downloads

For users wanting to access all the datasets used in the bulletin, there is a prominent link at the top right of the page.

You can also include a sentence at the end of the Data section to help users access the datasets. Use the following standard text to link to the related data page:

“View all data used in this statistical bulletin on the Related data page.”

How to format links

Each link should include:

  • the title of the dataset
  • the type of content (dataset or time series) and release date
  • up to 30 words describing the dataset – use the dataset’s summary if appropriate

Migration data
Provisional Long-Term International Migration estimates
Dataset | Released 29 November 2018
Migration flows to and from the UK, quarterly tables and charts

If linking to a dataset containing many tables, you can mention the most useful tables alongside the type of content (for example, “Dataset A02 | Released 29 November 2018”).

This section should not provide additional commentary or caveats about the data. Extra content is likely to slow down users’ journeys to the data they need.

Bulletin sections

Bulletin sections separate the different types of content on the page. They reflect the user needs and priorities we have identified through research.

 

Section Content
Other pages in this release (optional) When publishing more than one bulletin in a release, use this section to link to them
Main points

Up to six bullets containing headline figures or trends in the data

Can be followed by a statistician’s comment

Analysis sections (split into numbered sections by topic)

Commentary on what the majority of your users would find interesting, noteworthy or important about the new data

Create a separate section for each topic covered in your analysis. Section headings should be short, descriptive labels. Use narrative subheadings to break up the analysis in each section

Can include warnings to let users know about something that fundamentally affects the way they use your analysis

[Name of bulletin] data Links to the most relevant datasets referenced in this bulletin
Glossary Definitions of between three and six terms used in this bulletin
Measuring the data

A short summary of the data sources and collection method

Can link to more detailed Quality and Methodology Information (QMI) reports, methodology articles, user guides and planned changes

Strengths and limitations

Uncertainty about the data, such as sample size or comparability, and how to avoid misusing the data

Which of the data sources to use for different purposes

Related links

Links to in-depth analysis or articles on this subject from the ONS

Can include links to associated bulletins, such as revised or mid-year estimates

Links to related publications or statistics that users might find useful 

Can include links to publications from other organisations

Shorter releases

If there is not enough to say for a full bulletin, or there is little user engagement, consider streamlining your content or moving to a data-only release.

Keeping bulletins focused

Bulletins should reflect the topics that users are interested in, not the source of the data.

For example, it is more meaningful to tell users about the latest data on “migration” than the “International Passenger Survey”.

A bulletin can be one short page covering multiple topics, or – where there is clear user need, supported by research and/or analytics – split into multiple pages focusing on individual topics.

Consider the length of your bulletin, too. On average, users spend about four minutes looking at a bulletin. That’s long enough to read around 900 words.

We do not expect most users to read every word on every page, but if you are publishing significantly more than this, consider whether you could split your content.

Where a release contains more than one page, some users may still want to read overarching analysis. For example, there are a number of topic bulletins released that report labour market data, but research showed that users still needed a Labour market overview.

If you are unsure whether to use a single bulletin, or multiple bulletins split by topic, contact the content design team at content.design@ons.gov.uk for assistance. We can also help you identify your topics.

Users expect consistency between releases, so it is best to only create new bulletins on topics that you expect to cover regularly.

If there is not enough to say for a full bulletin, or limited user engagement, consider streamlining your content. See our guidance for headline releases and data-only releases.

If you have something to report on a one-off basis, consider publishing an article.

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

Next section: Bulletin structure

What users need from bulletins

Research shows that our users come to bulletins to complete three tasks. These are:

  • read analysis of the latest data
  • find the latest data, so that they can do their own analysis
  • find out about how the data were gathered and understand the methodology

Our bulletin structure has been designed and tested to help users achieve these goals. 

The order of the sections reflects user priorities for these tasks. The section headings clearly label the content so that users can find what they need quickly.

The order of the sections reflects what research identified as users’ priorities. The structure is the same for all bulletins to provide users with a consistent experience.

What bulletins do

A statistical bulletin is a short summary of findings and essential commentary related to a new release of data.

Bulletins should:

  • open up information to inquiring citizens
  • provide easy links to data
  • include only the most important information
  • link to more detailed content for those who need it

The Code of Practice says, “Statistics, data and explanatory material should be relevant and presented in a clear, unambiguous way that supports and promotes use by all types of users.”

A bulletin, or set of related bulletins, will always be published alongside datasets as part of a “release”. A release can also include articles relating to the new data.

Bulletins follow a consistent structure, which is designed to meet user needs and priorities. This structure is designed for bulletins and should not be used for articles or methodologies.

If you have more to say, are writing about existing data, or need to write something for more technical users, use an article template instead.

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

Some content is better suited to an article than a bulletin. Contact the content design team at content.design@ons.gov.uk for guidance.