Our writing principles
Our writing principles have been developed to ensure our content is clear, meaningful and trustworthy to all our users.
1. Write clearly and concisely
Content we write for the Ethnicity facts and figures website and GOV.UK should:
- meet user needs
- be clear and concise
- be written in plain English
- be easy for everyone to understand, even complex statistical ideas
- be accessible to everyone, including people with disabilities or who use assistive technologies like screen readers
- follow our guidelines on writing about ethnicity and our style guide A to Z
GOV.UK has guidance on writing well.
2. Be impartial and avoid judgemental language
We do not explain ethnic disparities shown in the data. We simply present the data in a way that can be understood by the widest possible audience.
We avoid judgemental words like ‘only’, ‘best’ and ‘worst’ and let the facts speak for themselves.
This is neutral:
This is judgemental:
We refer to ethnic disparities rather than ethnic discrimination. This is because differences in outcomes between ethnic groups aren’t always the result of discrimination.
3. Explain if figures aren’t reliable
Charts and tables can appear to show findings which, for statistical reasons, aren’t reliable or meaningful. Ignoring them leaves readers confused or even suspicious.
We explain if findings aren’t reliable or meaningful.
4. Define terms
We include definitions of terms we think readers may not know. We do this the first time we use the term.
5. Don’t overload users with numbers
We don’t reference too many figures in one sentence. This is because it makes users work harder to understand the information. The Nielson Norman Group have done research into how users process information.
This could be rewritten as:
We minimise the number of figures in one sentence.
We’re also consistent in the way we present figures. For example, we use fractions and percentages, but not both in the same measure.
6. Avoid ambiguity
We avoid ambiguity, particularly when comparing ethnic groups.
For example, the phrase ‘across all ethnic groups’ can mean ‘in every ethnic group’ or ‘in total’.
We say instead ‘in every ethnic group’ if a finding applies to every ethnic group.
7. Help us stay up to date
Language usage and acceptability change over time. We want to make sure our content reflects those changes. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your thoughts and research.