A key priority for the Government Statistical Service is to present statistical information clearly, in ways which maximise impact and usefulness.
This page brings together practical guidance and other resources about communicating and disseminating official statistics. There is also information about networks and events that you get involved in to help improve the way you communicate statistics.
If you have examples of good practice to share, feedback on our work or would like to explore how we can help you then we would really like to hear from you.
- GSS Writing about statistics guidance looks at how to present a full picture of the statistical subject, and how aspects such as structure and language can impact upon the messages that readers take away. Statistical commentary should do more than describe the statistics in words. It should help the reader to understand the meaning of the patterns and trends, and build on any factual and public information already known about the subject matter. Clear, insightful and accurate commentary helps informed decision-making and debate.
- GSS Communicating uncertainty and change guidance has advice on how to communicate uncertainty in a way that provides assurance and supports understanding. Commentary should help the reader understand the extent of uncertainty in the estimates. It should draw out the strengths and limitations in relation to what is known about the likely uses of the statistics. The guidance also includes examples from across the GSS.
- Take a look at the Good Practice Team’s top tips for statistical commentary and hints for front pages of statistical bulletins.
- The UN Economic Commission for Europe also provides practical guides on Making Data Meaningful.
- Standards for Statistical Reports sets out the UK Statistics Authority’s expectations in relation to the drafting of statistical reports.
- Presentation champions are a network of enthusiasts who help to improve the way we present and disseminate statistics. They can provide tools and resources for understanding how to make improvements to statistical commentary, and the motivation and support to see these through. They champion good practice within their department and share success across the GSS. They act as a liaison point between the Good Practice Team and producers of statistics.
- Effective Tables and Graphs in Official Statistics guidance is for producers who need to design graphs and tables that are clear, consistent, informative and easy to use. The guidance is supported by a free half-day training session on data visualisation delivered by the Good Practice Team. The course provides an understanding of the fundamental design decisions and strategies needed to present statistical information effectively in tables and graphs. Let us know if you would like a session for your team or department.
- The ONS provides useful tips for producing infographics and extra guidance on creating visualisations can be found on the Style.ONS website.
- GSS guidance – Releasing statistics in spreadsheets has some top tips for releasing statistics in spreadsheets.
- Take a look at the National Statistician’s guidance on the Presentation and publication of official statistics.
- Social media offers the GSS a simple and inexpensive way to disseminate our statistics and gain helpful feedback from users. Introduction to social media in the GSS: Good practice guidance has been developed by the Good Practice Team and is designed for departments who want to get started on social media. The guidance may also be helpful for departments already using social media.This guidance has three parts:Part 1 – looks at the benefits of having a social media presence, using real GSS examples.
Part 2 – is about getting started on social media, why social media is important and different ways to progress. This includes ways to work effectively with communication colleagues.
Part 3 – is about maximising the impact of your social media presence.
The Good Practice Team would like to thank James Twist, Amy Brockett and the members of the GSS Presentation and Dissemination Committee for input into this guidance.
- Check out our Peer Review Hints and Tips. Getting feedback from someone who hasn’t been involved in writing your statistical publication is a great way of identifying ways it can be improved. Peer review is simple to do and often produces some ideas which you can implement quickly.
- Think about putting your publication forward for a publication scrum. A scrum involves a team of around six GSS colleagues coming together to review a publication. The scrum offers a fresh perspective on your publication as participants are usually from outside of the producing department. It’s a great opportunity to receive feedback from other statisticians, make improvements to your statistical release and work collaboratively with other Government Departments. You can learn from the best practice of others who may have gone through a similar process. Get in touch with the Good Practice Team if you like to put forward a publication or would like to take part in a scrum.