February 18, 2018

Writing with statistics

Take the Numb Out of Numbers

Writing with statistics

Make numbers count Find the right numbers, get the numbers right and stop making readers’ eyes glaze over.

Good writers know how to find the right numbers and get the numbers right. Learn how to make statistics more accessible and interesting.

Why write with statistics?

World numeracy 2013

World numeracy 2013

Fewer than 12% of Earth’s adults are competent at math

Nope, this isn’t a joke about writers’ math skills: Just 12% of adults around the world are numerically literate, according to an enormous global literacy study.


Start your story with a stats lead

Start your story with a stats lead

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.


Get the numbers right

Quotes on getting the numbers right

Quotes on getting the numbers right

“Smoking causes 67% of all statistics.”

“Studies show that smoking causes 67 percent of all statistics.” – Anonymous


Make numbers count

Why reframe the data?

Why reframe the data?

Change perspective to improve decision-making

People in one study rated a disease that kills 1,286 people out of every 10,000 as more dangerous than one that kills 24.14% of the population (Yamagishi, 1997). But in fact, it’s about half as dangerous.


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?


Turn numbers into things

Turn numbers into things

Turn numbers into things

Clarify data by giving it context

When the late, great Kansas City Star columnist C.W. Gusewelle wanted to help readers understand the fragility of monarch butterflies as they migrate south for the winter.


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? Analogy, metaphor, simile and other comparisons can help your readers literally “see” the size and scale you’re communicating.


Match game

Match game

How can you help people see 6,000?

When 6,000 power poles went down in New Orleans during a series of ice storms, Entergy Senior Communications Specialist David Lewis needed a way to make that number tangible in an executive speech.


Get more tips on writing with statistics on Rev Up Readership.