Analysis

When writing about statistics, focus on what is interesting, noteworthy or important to the majority of users. Consider what is the most important information that supports your message.

If you want to know more about who uses your bulletin, take a look at our user personas or contact the content design team at content.design@ons.gov.uk.

Your text should be concise, in plain English and written with the user in mind. Many may not be experts; 56% of our users access the website from home.

Use text and simple charts or tables to give more detail and context. Your written analysis should add to your visuals, not just report what they show. It is not necessary to comment on every trend shown in a chart or table.

Flag concerns about the data using warnings. These should be short and any more detail should go in the Strengths and limitations section.

How much to write

Analytics show that users spend an average of four minutes looking at bulletins. A typical person would read around 900 words during this time. Aim to limit the amount of analysis on the page to be shorter than this.

If you are unsure whether something is going to be useful or interesting, do not include it. Users can still find the data in datasets, and an accompanying article can provide further detail if there is a user need.

If you think your analysis will be more than 900 words, we can help structure your content – email content.design@ons.gov.uk.

How to structure your analysis

Use section headings to break your analysis into broad themes. This helps users find the information they are looking for in the table of contents. Section headings should be short, descriptive labels that reflect themes users are interested in.

The analysis in the Employment in the UK bulletin could be structured around the headings “Employment”, “Unemployment” and “Economic inactivity”.

Within sections use subheadings and chart titles that summarise the main trends to break up your analysis. These do not appear in the table of contents but research shows that subheadings make it easier for users to:

  • get the most important messages at a glance
  • find which part of the page contains what they are looking for
  • get a feel for what the following text or chart is going to tell them

Use a new subheading every time you discuss a new subject or trend. Put the most important point at the start. Subheadings should be a maximum of 75 characters including spaces to prevent the text wrapping over too many lines, particularly on mobile.

Employment rate for women was 72%, the joint-highest on record

You can use a chart title instead of a subheading to break up your text. Chart titles should follow our guidance and highlight an important trend in the figure. Avoid using subheadings and chart titles that say the same thing one after another.