Main points

Highlight the most important and interesting findings from your bulletin at a glance. Most users read the main points and nothing else.

Rank up to six main points in order of importance for your users.

Each main point should:

  • be a single bullet point
  • contain one message that is expanded on in the bulletin
  • be a single sentence starting with what’s happened, followed by the significance of this; use a semicolon to split up the sentence if necessary

The UK unemployment rate was estimated at 3.8%; it has not been lower since October to December 1974.

Research shows that users want the headline figures quickly, so avoid prefacing your main points with any introduction or warnings. Do not introduce detailed definitions or quality warnings in your main points.

The content design team can help you to write impactful and user-friendly main points – email

If the data do not change month to month and only provide enough detail for Main points rather than full analysis sections, it may be better to write a headline release, a streamlined version of the bulletin structure.

Statistician’s comment

Some bulletins include a statistician’s comment. It is primarily for the media but should highlight something of interest to all users.

The comment puts the main findings in context; it should not just repeat something that the user can read elsewhere in the bulletin. 

The comment should:

  • be short; up to 75 words
  • be placed in double quote marks
  • be followed by the name of the person quoted, their job title and a link to a relevant  ONS Statistician’s Twitter profile (if there is one)

The 75-word limit will make sure the comment does not fill an entire mobile phone screen, or most of a desktop browser screen.

Shorter comments will help users with scrolling and getting to the analysis quicker.

The comment must be approved by the Media Relations Office.

“Marriage rates remain at historical lows despite a small increase in the number of people who got married in 2016. Most couples are preferring to do so with a civil ceremony and for the first time ever, less than a quarter of everyone who married had a religious ceremony. Meanwhile, the age at which people are marrying continues to hit new highs as more and more over 50s get married.”

Kanak Ghosh, Vital Statistics Outputs Branch, Office for National Statistics

Follow Vital Statistics Outputs Branch on Twitter @NickStripe_ONS

How to write comments

Writing statistician comments for media use is different from other kinds of writing on  the ONS website. Read the full Media Relations Office’s guidance (Word, 18.6KB). Also remember these tips:

  • use a conversational tone of voice; imagine you are explaining the point to an intelligent but non-specialist friend in a friendly chat 
  • avoid jargon and technical language; use everyday plain English
  • do not just wrap speech marks around your main points; explain the significance of what the bulletin reveals in words, ideally avoiding numbers altogether  
  • use well-chosen adjectives; for example “a sharp rise” rather than a “15% increase”
  • be careful when using metaphors or figures of speech and avoid clichés (like the plague!)
  • make sure the comment addresses the main angle or issue that the media story is likely to focus on – the Media Relations Office can help with this
  • never make predictions, chase headlines or sensationalise the numbers; public trust in what we do is far more important than a little extra media attention.