Today’s guest blogger at the Writer’s Resource Center, Andrew Dlugan, discusses how to add meaningful context when you write about numbers and statistics. Numbers and statistics without context can confuse and even distress the average reader. I’ve spent most of my professional life writing about statistics, trying to present important public health information in a context that can be readily understood by the general public. It’s an incredible challenge, and Andrew provides good examples, including one from cancer research. To simply say that over a half million people will die from cancer in 2008, without providing some underlying context, does a disservice to the average reader. Providing the percentage of the general population that that number actually represents helps to educate the reader. Andrew goes a bit further by drawing on examples that the average reader is assumed to readily comprehend, for example, generalizing to the “population” of visitors to the Writer’s Resource Center (although he does provide the caveat that this population may not be representative of the larger general population). Click here to read his full post.
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