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.


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