Simplify stats with metaphor

Turn numbers into things

Simplify stats with metaphor

Numbers numb “Numbers without context, especially large ones with many zeros trailing behind, are about as intelligible as vowels without consonants,” writes Daniel Okrent, former New York Times ombudsman. Image by Gemma Evans

Turn numbers into things

Make size and scale visual

Make size and scale visual

How tiny is tiny? How huge is huge?

How small is small? One-third the size of a ladybug? The size of a sprinkle on an ice cream cone?


Turn populations into people

Turn populations into people

Help readers see a classroom of children

Turn numbers into things: Turn populations into classrooms, auditoriums or cities of people.


Give numbers context

Give numbers context

How can you help people see 6,000?

Match game: When is a jar of matches worth 6,000 words?


Reframe the data

Why reframe the data?

Change perspective to improve decision-making

Get the picture: The frame you choose for your statistic changes the way readers see it.


Reframe stats to boost understanding

Reframe stats to boost understanding

Make numbers count

Which is more dangerous? A disease that kills 1,286 out of every 10,000 people it strikes? Or one that kills 12.86% of its victims?


More on simplifying stats: Tips & tools

Quotes on simplifying stats

Quotes on simplifying stats

What writers & others say

“Speaking in ‘millions’ and ‘billions’ is like your second year of Spanish: You’ve memorized the vocabulary, but it’s hard to think in the language.” — Chip Heath and Dan Heath, authors of Made to Stick


Get more tips on Metaphor on Rev Up Readership.


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