A to Z
This A to Z is for anyone writing content for Ethnicity facts and figures. It includes:
- general guidance on formatting, grammar and punctuation
- example text that can be used in commentary
It should be used alongside guidance on writing about ethnicity and our writing principles.
Abbreviations and acronyms
Follow the GOV.UK style guide on abbreviations.
See also Ethnicity facts and figures, Race Disparity Unit and Race Disparity Audit.
If figures have been age standardised, add this content to the ‘Methodology’ subsection in ‘Things you need to know’:
The statistics have been age-standardised so comparisons can be made between ethnic groups as if they had the same age profile (the number of people of different ages within an ethnic group). They do not show the actual percentage of people in each ethnic group who [insert text relevant to topic].
Use conversational language when talking about ages.
- ‘16 to 64 year olds’, not ‘people aged 16 to 64 years’
- ‘5 year olds’, not ‘children aged 5 years old’
- ‘under 18s’, not ‘people aged 17 and under’
There are some exceptions. For example, say ‘people aged 65 and over’, not ‘over 64s’.
See Working age.
Don’t only use ‘mean’ or ‘median’ in bullet points. Say ‘average (median)’ instead.
Explain the type of average used in the ‘Methodology’ subsection in ‘Things you need to know’, and link to Our statistical principles.
BAME and BME
Don’t use these terms.
Don't use this term.
Broad and specific ethnic groups
Don’t use these terms.
In most cases, follow the GOV.UK guidance on bullet points.
There’s one exception. Don’t add a lead-in line above the bullet points in ‘Main facts and figures’.
Follow the GOV.UK guidance on capitalisation.
See also guidance about capitalising ethnic groups in Writing about ethnicity.
Write ‘Census’ with a capital ‘C’ when you’re referring to a specific census.
according to the 2011 Census, the total population of England and Wales was 56.1 million
Use lower case:
- when you’re not referring to a specific census – for example, ‘census information shows that…’
- for the ‘school census’
Don’t write ‘compared to’.
Write ‘compared with’ when you’re comparing groups with each other.
between April 2018 and March 2019, there were 4 stop and searches for every 1,000 White people, compared with 38 for every 1,000 Black people
If the data download includes confidence intervals, add this to the ‘In the data file’ subsection in ‘Things you need to know’:
See [Download the data](#download-the-data) for confidence intervals for each ethnic group – find out more about how [confidence intervals](/understanding-our-data/how-to-read-survey-data#confidence-intervals) are used to determine how reliable estimates are.
Follow the GOV.UK guidance on COVID-19.
Follow the GOV.UK style guide and write data as a singular noun:
‘The data shows that…’, not ‘These data show that…’.
Follow the GOV.UK style guide on dates.
Dashes (-) and slashes (/) make it harder for users to read, and don’t work well for those who use screen readers.
Financial or academic years
Let users know if you’re referring to a date range other than a calendar year:
- the year ending March 2019
- the academic year ending July 2019
- April 2018 to March 2019
between April 2018 and March 2019, there were 375,588 stop and searches in England and Wales (excluding vehicle searches)
Combining data across multiple years
Don’t refer to ‘rolling averages’.
Use or adapt one of the following:
- 3 years to March 2019
- in the 3 years to August 2020, an average of...
in the 2 years to March 2019, an average of 3% of households in England had damp in at least one room of their home
Periods over time
Don’t write ‘2002/03 to 2018/19’.
Use or adapt one of the following:
- 2002 to 2019
- the [number] years to [month] [year]
the data shows that, in the 13 years to March 2020, the overall arrest rate in England and Wales went down from 27 to 12 arrests per 1,000 people
Denominators and numerators
Don’t use the terms ‘numerators’ or ‘denominators’ except in data download files.
Use this Plain English definition of economically inactive:
Someone is economically inactive if they are 16 to 64 years old and:
- are out of work
- have not been looking for work in the past 4 weeks
- are not waiting to start a job
This could include people who care for their family or are retired.
Use ‘ethnicity’ instead of ‘race’.
See also Writing about ethnicity.
Ethnicities and nationalities
Ethnicity facts and figures
Write ‘Ethnicity facts and figures’, not ‘Ethnicity Facts and Figures’ or ‘ethnicity facts and figures’.
This includes within a sentence. For example, ‘New data was recently added to Ethnicity facts and figures.’
Don’t use the abbreviations ‘EFF’ or ‘EFAF’. Either say ‘Ethnicity facts and figures’ or ‘the website’, depending on the context. Don’t call it a ‘service’.
Don’t use fractions. Use percentages. For example, say ‘20%’ instead of ‘one-fifth’ or ‘one in five’.
See also Our writing principles.
Free school meals
Follow the GOV.UK style guide on abbreviations before using ‘FSM’.
Eligibility for free school meals can be used as an indicator of deprivation.
Where it is, add this content to dimension summaries, above the bullet points:
Eligibility for free school meals (FSM) in England is used as an indicator of deprivation.
Gender and sex
Use the same term as in the data source. The Office for National Statistics explains the difference between the 2 terms.
See also Women and men.
See UK and Great Britain.
Gypsy, Roma and Traveller ethnic groups
Use this Plain English definition of household in the ‘What the data measures’ subsection in ‘Things you need to know’:
The information relates to households of either one person or a group of people sharing cooking facilities and a living room or dining area. It must be their main or only home.
You can use ‘more likely’, ‘most likely’, ‘less likely’ and ‘least likely’ to compare ethnic groups where there are reliable differences between them.
Always make it clear what you’re comparing.
- in all ethnic groups, men were more likely to be employed than women
- adults from the Chinese ethnic group were the least likely out of all ethnic groups to be overweight or obese
- people from ethnic minorities were more likely to receive an OBE or MBE than any other type of honour
You should also use ‘as likely’ for relative likelihoods.
Black people were over 3 times as likely to be arrested as White people – there were 35 arrests for every 1,000 Black people, and 11 for every 1,000 White people
Follow the GOV.UK guidance on writing link text.
Don’t use ‘maintained schools’. Use ‘state-funded mainstream schools’ instead.
Don’t say ‘Non-White’.
Other ethnic groups
Percentage and proportion
Don’t use ‘proportion’, ‘level’ or ‘rate’ as an alternative to ‘percentage’. They don’t mean the same thing.
See also Rates.
Use ‘ethnicity’ instead of ‘race’.
Race Disparity Audit
The Race Disparity Audit was published in October 2017.
It’s a standalone publication, and not the same as Ethnicity facts and figures.
If you need to refer to it, write ‘the Race Disparity Audit’, not ‘the race disparity audit’. In subsequent mentions, you can say ‘the audit’ (but not ‘the Audit’ or ‘the RDA’).
Race Disparity Unit
The Race Disparity Unit is the team that produced the Race Disparity Audit and now manages Ethnicity facts and figures.
Write ‘the Race Disparity Unit’, not ‘the Race disparity unit’ or ‘the race disparity unit’.
It’s fine to say ‘the RDU’, but write it out in full the first time you use it, as per the GOV.UK style guide on abbreviations.
You can use ‘rate’ as in these examples:
Black people had the highest unemployment rate out of all ethnic groups (9%).
There were 698,737 arrests in England and Wales in the year to March 2018 – a rate of 13 arrests per 1,000 people.
See also Percentage and proportion.
Do not use the term 'rolling averages'.
Be consistent in your use of rounding. Write 1.2%, 6.0% and 10.1%, not 1.20%, 6% and 10.146%.
If you are rounding figures to 1 decimal place, whole numbers should be written as ‘10.0%’, not ‘10%’.
See Gender and sex.
Write ‘socio-economic groups’. Don’t write ‘socioeconomic groups’ or ‘NS-SEC groups’.
UK and Great Britain
Write ‘UK’, not ‘United Kingdom’.
Write ‘England, Wales and Scotland’, not Great Britain.
Use this in the ‘Methodology’ subsection in ‘Things you need to know’ where applicable:
The figures on this page are based on survey data. Find out more about [how weighting is used](/understanding-our-data/how-to-read-survey-data#weighting) to make survey data more representative of the whole group being studied.
Women and men
Use ‘women’ and ‘girls’ instead of ‘females’. Use ‘men’ and ‘boys’ rather than ‘males’.
Only use ‘male’ and ‘female’ as adjectives.
in the same period, the percentage of female officers from the same backgrounds went up from 3.9% to 5.7%
The working age population in employment statistics includes all 16 to 64 year olds.
Consider if it’s clearer to refer directly to ‘16 to 64 year olds’ instead of ‘people of working age’.
If you do use ‘working age’, include a definition in the first bullet point of each summary.
75% of working age people (people aged 16 to 64) in England, Wales and Scotland were employed in 2018
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