Effective Online Communication

How to Write Statistics for Impact

Minute read
How to Write Statistics for Impact

A well-placed stat will add weight to your writing—particularly when it’s referenced with a credible source. When working with numbers, all care must be taken to not misinterpret or over-simplify the data. There are therefore good reasons to reproduce stats from academic sources with minimal paraphrasing. However, you’re not writing an academic paper—and not everyone was born with a mind for numbers. For some readers, even simple percentages can lack meaning.

If you’re using a statistic for emphasis rather than precision, consider dropping the % sign entirely and reducing your stat to its lowest denominator. This simple technique makes percentages more accessible to more readers.

How to simplify statistics for the non-numerically minded

  • greater than 90% 👉nearly all
  • 90% 👉nine out of ten
  • 80% 👉four out of five
  • 75% 👉three out of four
  • 65-70% 👉two out of three
  • over 50% 👉over half / most / the majority
  • Near 50% 👉half / every second
  • under 50% 👉less than half
  • 30-35% 👉one in three
  • 25% 👉one in four
  • 20% 👉one in five
  • 10% 👉one in ten
  • 5% 👉one in twenty

You don’t have to be a statistician to use stats effectively. However, if you know you’re not a ‘numbers person’, run your stats by someone who is. This little fail-safe will help protect your organization’s credibility against any embarrassing accidental misrepresentations.

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Karen Nilsen

Hi there! I’m Karen. I’m on a mission to reach my former self. Had I known 10 years ago what I know today, I could have achieved more good, made fewer mistakes, and had more weekends. Every time we share what works, we win faster. Let’s create digital experiences that move people — that grow our base and fuel our movements. Are you with me? Please share this with someone you know who wants to up their digital game!

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