Finding the story in statistics

January 21, 2015 | Education, Not-for-Profits, Online Strategy, Small Business Tips, Social Media, Web content, Writing

Statistics give credibility to any piece of work, from a tweet to an infographic to an article. But stats are so often overwhelming. What do these really mean?

To help your audience engage with the true meaning of your statistics, try applying the following principles.


1. Put your numbers into context

Numbers on their own are ambiguous. Can you really picture 20,000 in your head? What about 100? It’s often better to relate stats and numbers to something people can visualise.

Take, for example, this (old) ipad mini advertisement. Apple compares the size of the mini to a pencil, and gives statistical comparisons to previous ipad models. The end result is that you, the reader, get a real sense of just how small and light the product is – without even holding it in your hand!


Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 12.21.02 pm


2. Use numerals instead of words

We tend to scan content these days.  Numerals stand out more easily with a piece of writing.


3. Get creative

Even if you’ve only got one statistic, this is still plenty to work with. You can compare this with other relevant statistics, compare it to the opinions of experts in the fields, ask experts to comment and more. There’s always room to dive deeper and find the real juice of the story. You’re only limited by your imagination.


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