December 18, 2017

Statistical indexes

Add a ‘Harper’s Index’-style piece

One easy way to add graphic stories to your publication is through a “Harper’s Index”-style statistical list.

All you do is:

  • Gather stats from your organization or industry
  • List them — or hand them over to your designer for a simple layout
  • You can even pull the stats from stories within your publication and use them to promote content

Just make a list

“Harper’s Index” is simple — and delightful. Here are some approaches to steal from the original:

  1. Find fascinating stats. Once, “Harper’s Index” quantified the number of Americans who believed they were more likely to see Elvis Presley alive than campaign finance reform during their lifetimes. (Belief in Elvis, sadly, beat out trust in campaign finance reform.)
  2. Put them in an interesting format. Harper’s has made famous its convention “Number of whatever: XX.”
  3. Lay it out in a simple design. Graphic layouts don’t get much easier than this.


Market your product

Harper’s also uses its popular index format in this renewal letter. How could you use this approach to promote your products and services?


Drive readership

Northern Trust’s Update and Saint Luke’s Report publish indexes with tables of contents. Editors pull statistics from stories; the index drives readers to features to learn more.
How could you use stats from your stories to promote content within the issue?


Make it a feature

Smart Money creates a full-page index with its recurring “Cash Register.” How about a regular one-page index on your back page or inside back cover?


Give readers a nibble

Portland Monthly runs its “PDX Index” in its front-of-the-book “appetizers” section. Try opening your publication with little morsels of savory information — facts and stats, roundups of news items, and bits and pieces of unrelated information, for instance.


  • Create Content Marketing Pieces That Almost Write Themselves

    Here’s the bad news: The story structure you’re using now probably isn’t helping you reach readers online. But there’s another structure that does draw readers into your message, pull them further through the piece and leave a lasting impression. Not only does it delight readers, but it makes the job of organizing webpages, blog posts and content marketing pieces a breeze.

    Get Clicked, Read, Shared & Liked - Ann Wylie’s Social media-writing workshop on Feb. 6-7, 2018 in Los AngelesAt Get Clicked, Read, Liked and Shared — a two-day social media-writing Master Class on Feb. 6-7, 2018 in Los Angeles — you’ll learn a six-step structure that reaches readers online and in print. Specifically, you’ll learn how to:

    • Fill in the blanks to craft the best survey story you’ve ever written.
    • Use a simple template for crafting a tipsheet that almost writes itself.
    • Model the masters to a great listicle: It’s easy with our annotated example.
    • Three elements of a great lead — and five leads to avoid.
    • Five ways to avoid the “muddle in the middle”.
    • A three-step test for ending with a bang.

    Learn more about the Master Class.

    Register for Get Clicked, Read, Shared & Liked - Ann Wylie’s Social media-writing workshop on Feb. 6-7, 2018 in Los Angeles

    Browse all upcoming Master Classes.

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