Grab reader attention with numbers
Stumped for a story starter? Try a statistics lead. Yes, writing with numbers can be tough. A bunch of boring figures can make readers’ eyes glaze over wherever you place them.
But startling statistics — underline the word “startling” — can make a great lead. When writing your next lead, surprise and delight readers with a statistics lead like these, from two intranet stories:
Show size and scope.
Are you writing about a company, division or operation that’s gigantic or minuscule? A startling statistics lead might be the way to go, as in this piece about the largest producer of baked goods in Puerto Rico.
Start with the most startling stat:
One million pounds of flour a week.
Got more interesting stats? When writing with numbers, limit yourself to three numbers per paragraph. That may mean hitting return before reporting your other surprising stats:
That’s what it takes for Holsum Bakers of Puerto Rico to produce the 30 million loaves of bread, 135 million buns and complete line of cakes, cookies, donuts and pies that it bakes every year. …
Statistics leads can offer an analogy.
Analogies work well with statistics. So when writing with numbers, try adding a concrete visual to your more abstract data. Here’s how it works, in a statistics lead from a piece about a company’s product rollout.
If Phase 3.5 were a ship, it would be the QEII. As the largest of all the Sprint ION phases, it will involve more than 4000 people and 1.3 million system development hours—more than double any of the previous releases.
Learn more about writing with numbers.