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.

Age standardisation

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.

For example:

  • ‘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.

Academic years

See Dates.


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.



Don’t use these terms.

See Writing about ethnicity.


Don't use this term.

See Writing about ethnicity.

Broad and specific ethnic groups

Don’t use these terms.

See Writing about ethnicity.

Bullet points

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.

For example:

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.

For example:

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

Confidence intervals

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.

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

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

For example:

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...

For example:

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]

For example:

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


See Rounding.

Denominators and numerators

Don’t use the terms ‘numerators’ or ‘denominators’ except in data download files.


Economically inactive

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.

Ethnic minorities

See Writing about ethnicity.

Ethnicities and nationalities

See Writing about ethnicity.

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’.


Financial years

See Dates.


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.

Great Britain

See UK and Great Britain.

Gypsy, Roma and Traveller ethnic groups

See Writing about ethnicity.



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.

For example:

  • 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.

For example:

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.


Maintained schools

Don’t use ‘maintained schools’. Use ‘state-funded mainstream schools’ instead.


See Averages.


See Averages.

Mixed ethnicity

See Writing about ethnicity.



Don’t say ‘Non-White’.

See Writing about ethnicity.


Other ethnic groups

See Writing about ethnicity.


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’.

See Writing about ethnicity.

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.

Rolling averages

Do not use the term 'rolling averages'.

See Dates.


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.

Socio-economic groups

Write ‘socio-economic groups’. Don’t write ‘socioeconomic groups’ or ‘NS-SEC groups’.

Statistical significance

See Our writing principles.


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.

For example:

in the same period, the percentage of female officers from the same backgrounds went up from 3.9% to 5.7%

Working age

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.

For example:

75% of working age people (people aged 16 to 64) in England, Wales and Scotland were employed in 2018

See Ages.

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