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
When we write for the Ethnicity facts and figures website and GOV.UK, it 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 how to write well.
2. Be impartial and avoid judgemental language
We do not explain ethnic disparities shown in the data. We just show the data in a way that can be understood by the widest possible audience.
We avoid judgemental words like 'only', 'best' and 'worst'.
This is judgemental:
This is neutral:
We refer to ethnic disparities rather than ethnic discrimination. This is because differences in outcomes between ethnic groups are not always the result of discrimination.
3. Explain if figures are unreliable
Charts and tables can appear to show findings which, for statistical reasons, are unreliable. Ignoring them leaves readers confused or even suspicious.
We explain if findings are unreliable.
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 it harder for people 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 used in one sentence.
We are consistent in the way we present figures – for example, we usually use percentages (20%), not fractions (one-fifth) or other alternatives ('one in five').
6. Avoid ambiguity
We avoid ambiguity, especially when comparing ethnic groups.
For example, the phrase ‘across all ethnic groups’ can mean ‘in every ethnic group’ or ‘in total’.
Instead, we say ‘in every ethnic group’ if a finding applies to every ethnic group. We refer to ‘all other ethnic groups combined’ if data is shown for 2 ethnic groups – White, and all other groups combined.
7. Help us stay up to date
We want to make sure our content reflects changes in language usage and acceptability over time.
Contact the Cabinet Office with your feedback.