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Content types on the ONS website Articles


Articles can be used to provide more detailed analysis on topics or to give updates or changes to a project or method. They are usually published on a one-off or irregular basis, although some articles are published on a monthly or quarterly basis.

An audit of articles published on the ONS website identified two categories of articles: analysis articles and information articles.

Analysis articles

  • In-depth articles: analysis of specific and cross-cutting topics, retrospective examination of previously published data from a different angle, or latest commentary on trends found in thematically linked bulletins.
  • Digital content articles: short articles on a timely topic that are collaboratively written with the Digital Content team and focus on visual representation of data.
  • Technical articles: articles that contain analysis of data, but with more detailed technical explanation of methods and the statistical modelling underpinning the data than an in-depth analysis article.

Information articles

  • Changes to methods articles: explanation of recent or upcoming changes in methodology and how they affect data or findings.
  • Progress reports: description of or an update on a project, programme or roadmap.
  • Research outputs: articles analysing data sources rather than statistics, discussing the new and developing research underpinning them, issues of quality, challenges around statistical models and next steps – does not include official statistics.
  • Current and upcoming work articles: information about present and future work on a specific topic or theme.

Who are articles for

Articles have a range of purposes and so may be of interest to different users (opens in a new tab) 

It is important to understand your users before you start writing your article.

Analysis articles contain more detailed analysis of a topic than statistical bulletins and are often used by a range of users, including the media. Information articles are likely to be of more interest to policy influencers and technical users.

These users are often busy and want to get the information they need quickly and easily. Writing clearly and using plain language will make your content understandable to all users.

Our Digital Content team works with business areas across the ONS to create articles specifically for inquiring citizens. These tend to follow a different format to the articles covered in this guidance. To find out how to commission a Digital Content piece, contact (opens in a new tab) 

When to use an article

Articles should:

  • be published alongside a bulletin if they contain analysis of new data; they should not be the only release of new data
  • be timely and relevant at the time of publication
  • be structured with the user in mind, presenting the most important or interesting information first
  • not provide complex or detailed explanation of a method, data source, process or concept (we have separate methodology article pages for this)

Articles are not bulletins

Articles should only be used for presenting analysis of new data if they are published alongside a bulletin, headline or data-only release

An article cannot be the only release of new data. If you are publishing the first release of new data, always use a bulletin, headline or data-only release.

Articles are not methodology

Articles can be used to give an explanation of any recent or planned changes to your methods, and how these may affect the data. They should not be used to give detailed information about a method, process, data source or concept. Instead, use a methodology article page (a separate content type) and link to it from your article.

Important information:

If you need help deciding if your content is an article, a bulletin or a methodology article page, email (opens in a new tab) 

Keep articles focused

Consider the length of your article to make sure you are getting the main messages across. On average, users spend about four minutes looking at a page on the website. That is long enough to read around 900 words. Aim to limit the amount of analysis on the page to be shorter than this.

We do not expect most users to read every word on every page. But if you are publishing significantly more than this, consider whether you could split your content into multiple articles or link to methodology pages elsewhere on the website.

If your content already exists on the ONS website or it is published on another website, link to it rather than duplicating it.

Article structure

Article sections separate the different types of content on the page. Consistency is important for our users, so we should aim to use standard section headings where possible.

We have created recommended structures for each of the article types based on research.

In-depth analysis article template (Word, 179KB) (opens in a new tab) 

An in-depth look at a topic using new or experimental data

Main points
Labelled analysis section(s)
[Topic] data
Data sources and quality
Future developments
Related links
Cite this article

Technical article template (Word, 186KB) (opens in a new tab) 

Analysis of data, but with more detailed technical explanation of methods and modelling underpinning the data. May include real data or dummy data to explain a model.

Main points
Overview of [topic]
Labelled analysis section
[Topic] data
Data sources and quality
Related links
Cite this article

Research outputs article template (Word, 184KB) (opens in a new tab) 

Focus on analysing data sources rather than statistics, discussing the new and developing research underpinning them, issues of quality, challenges around statistical models and next steps. Does not include official statistics.

Main points
Labelled analysis section
[Topic] data (optional)
Data sources and quality
Future developments
Related links
Cite this article

Changes to methods article template (Word, 181KB) (opens in a new tab) 

Explanation of how recent or upcoming changes in methodology affect data or findings

Main changes
Overview of [method or topic]
Labelled section per change
[Topic] data (optional)
Future developments
Related links
Cite this article

Progress report template (Word, 179KB) (opens in a new tab) 

Description of a project, programme or roadmap, or an update on any progress, changes or developments

Overview of project or changes
Labelled section per bullet
Future developments
Related links
Cite this article

Current and upcoming work article template (Word, 183KB) (opens in a new tab) 

Articles published at regular intervals that allow teams to share information about their present and future work on a specific topic or theme. Read more in Current and upcoming work articles

Overview of [theme/topic/emerging trend]
Our current work
Upcoming work
Future developments
Provide feedback
Publication schedule
Related links

Digital content article

Short articles on a timely topic that are collaboratively written with the Digital Content team and focus on visual representation of data

Email in a new tab) (opens in a new tab)  to find out more about Digital content articles and how to commission them.

The content management system does not allow related downloads to be added on the right-hand side of an article page. We can include a green “View all data used in this release” button to link to any datasets referenced in the analysis.

Article templates

Download one of our article templates:

Digital content articles

Digital content articles are collaboratively written with the Digital Content team and aim to improve the interest and understanding of the citizen audience rather than experts.

Digital content articles:

  • are usually on a timely topic
  • are written for the inquiring citizen user persona
  • range from 1,000 to 3,000 words, with minimal chart notes
  • feature visualisations designed to be easily embedded in news websites
  • are mostly standalone, rather than part of a series
  • use a neutral article template and are visually distinct from standard articles as they do not have a table of contents

Digital content articles have a conversational approach. Complicated concepts are explained simply, with the inquiring citizen user in mind. They contain analysis and commentary rather than method.

They can only be created in the main taxonomy and cannot be created in the census area of the site. They cannot be created in a series and are published as one-off, separate publications.

This article type does not suit content which require substantial methodological detail or navigation between sections. Use other article templates instead.

Important information:

Find out more about digital content articles by emailing (opens in a new tab) 

Structure and navigation

Digital content articles read more like stories with a beginning, middle and end. They do not feature:

  • a table of contents
  • main points
  • numbered sections
  • numbered charts
  • methodology or quality sections

Titles and headings

Titles are shorter than other statistical releases and focus on the main findings. They do not include time periods or geography. In contrast to statistical bulletins and articles, they can be descriptive rather than labels.

Digital content article titles can be written as questions, such as How green is your street? (opens in a new tab) 

Each section heading will be descriptive of a main finding. Users will be able to see a narrative from reading the section headings alone.

Tools and automation

Digital content articles make greater use of tools such as calculators and interactive maps.

Some articles contain elements of semi-automated journalism that allow people to select a variable, such as a geographic area, to get a more personal story. This is known as “robo-journalism”.

One example is the article Age of the property is the biggest single factor in energy efficiency of homes (opens in a new tab) 

This has a postcode look-up tool that displays a few lines of basic comparative text about the selected area, for example “Fareham is above average in England for…”


“Scrollytelling” articles make greater use of graphics and interactive elements, with minimal supporting text. Users view a continuous visualisation, triggering interactions as they scroll.

In the example of the article Mapping regional differences in productivity and household income (opens in a new tab) , users scroll down a page featuring an interactive map. Accompanying text pulls out the main trends and the user can select different areas on the map to see data.

Qualitative data

Articles based on qualitative data focus on the human impact and may feature quotes predominately.

The lasting impact of violence against women and girls (opens in a new tab)  uses quotes provided by third-sector organisations to provide qualitative context.

Current and upcoming work articles

Current and upcoming work articles provide users with an overview of the ONS’s work on a specific topic or theme. This includes present work, as well as work we are completing in the near future and longer-term projects.

Use our current and upcoming work article template (Word, 182KB) (opens in a new tab) 


Use a clear, unambiguous title that makes it easy for the reader to understand what they are about to read.

Use the following format:

[Theme, topic or emerging trend], current and upcoming work: [month and year of publication]

Green jobs, current and upcoming work: March 2022
Cost of living, current and upcoming work: June 2022

What to include

The first edition of a current and upcoming work article should provide a broad overview of your team’s work on a specific topic or theme.

Any subsequent editions should only cover work and updates since the previous edition and any work that will take place before the next edition.

Focus your content on the work that is currently taking place or about to take place. Only reference past work detailed in previous editions if you need to provide updates. You do not need to duplicate or repeat content in each edition of your article. Use clear and descriptive link text to refer users to previous updates and past work in earlier editions of your article where needed.

If you are planning work on a long-term project that will span several editions of your article, use the “Upcoming work” section to describe the phase of the work that you are currently working on.

Important information:

For more guidance about structuring your current and upcoming work article, you can email (opens in a new tab) 

If you have any questions about using this article type to present your current and upcoming work, email (opens in a new tab) 

Article titles and summaries


Article titles need to be short and clear, and reflect the content on the page. The shorter the title, the more likely a user is to click on your content in a search result.

Article titles should:

  • be a concise description of the subject
  • include the geographic coverage of the data
  • include a time period (the edition after the colon), which can either be the period covered by the data or the month and/or year of publication
  • be no more than 65 characters including spaces; longer titles are cut off in search engine results
  • be frontloaded and have the most important information first; avoid starting your title with “An exploration of” or “Analysis of”
  • include words that users put into search engines; people are more likely to search for “employment” than “labour market”
  • not include a survey name or statistical designation (such as official statistics in development); these should be in the article summary or keywords
  • be written in sentence case

Read more in our titles guidance

Analysis articles
Disability pay gaps in the UK: 2018
Coronavirus and travel to work: June 2020

Information articles
Population statistics research update: June 2018

Any changes to titles or summaries should also be reflected on the calendar entry. Please email (opens in a new tab)  to amend an entry.

Important information:

If you need help with your article title or are publishing an article for the first time, email (opens in a new tab) 

Creating an article series

A series is used to link multiple editions of an article together. We are not able to mix content types in a series. This means if the first edition is created as an article, all future editions must be published as articles. It is important we get the content type and title right for the first release.


The title used for the first release will determine the series name and URL for all future editions. Check all new titles with (opens in a new tab) 

The series is created using the title of the publication and this cannot be changed once it has been created. Everything in the title before the colon determines the series and everything after the colon forms the edition

Existing series

A new edition of an article should be created in the relevant existing series. This will link the latest release to any previous editions so that users can easily navigate between them.

When adding to an existing series, you will only need to update the edition (the part of the title after the colon).


This is the description that follows the title at the top of the page. The summary should:

  • tell users what the article is about
  • be under 160 characters including spaces; long summaries will cut off in search engine results
  • begin with the most important information (avoid using phrases like “This article covers…”)
  • tell users if the article contains official statistics in development; include a sentence at the end with “These are official statistics in development."
  • not be a technical definition of the topic; you can do this in the article if needed

Analysis articles
Prevalence, long-term trends and types of domestic abuse experienced by adults based on findings from the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) and police recorded crime.

Earnings and employment for disabled and non-disabled people in the UK, raw disability pay gaps and factors that affect pay for disabled people.

Information articles
How the global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the wider containment efforts are expected to impact on UK productivity estimates, and challenges on data collection.

Annual progress update on our transformation of population, migration and social statistics.

Any abbreviations should be written out in full in the summary and the abbreviation included in brackets. For example, CSEW should be written as Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW).

If there are any other terms that users are searching for, include these in the keywords. Both the summary and the keywords contribute to search, so you do not need to duplicate terms.

Important information:

The Content Design team can help you write short, concise and frontloaded article summaries. Email (opens in a new tab) 

Structuring your main messages and analysis

We know that users only read the first 25% of a page, with most only reading the first section. Put your most important or interesting information first to make sure users see it.

Main points or main changes

All articles include a section at the start that summarises the main trends, analysis or changes detailed in the article. This section is called “Main points” for analysis articles and “Main changes” for information articles. It should include up to six bullet points each no longer than one sentence.

Best practice for web writing is to use an inverted pyramid style of writing. The pyramid means placing information in order of importance, so your main findings and conclusions should come first.

Split your main content into sections

The main body of your article should provide more detailed analysis or information on the trends or changes summarised in the Main points or Main changes section.

You can either create a new section for each bullet point in the Main points or Main changes section, or group the information into topics of interest and create a new section for each topic.

Keep your sections short; avoid putting all the information under one section as users will not be able to find what they are looking for in the table of contents.

Use clear section headings

Use clearly labelled section headings so that users can find what they need quickly. They should be short and concise with the most important information first, and reflect the topics users are interested in.

These section headings will appear in the table of contents and will help users find what they are looking for.

  1. Main points
  2. Knife crime
  3. Deaths by local area
  4. Use of administrative data
  5. Challenges of data collection

There are standard section headings that you can use to structure your content. View the "Article structure" section for more detail.

Important information:

The content design team can help you structure your content and choose the most suitable section headings – email (opens in a new tab) 

Use subheadings to break up your text

Use a new subheading within your section every time you discuss a new subject, trend or change. Put the most important point at the start. Subheadings should be a maximum of 75 characters, including spaces, to prevent the text wrapping over too many lines, particularly on mobile devices.

Avoid numbering subheadings (for example, 3.1 or 3.1.2) as these cannot be linked to in the text. They also slow down online users who often use subheadings and scan the left side of a page to find the topic they are looking for (see the F pattern). A short and clear subheading is more useful and will help users navigate by headings.

Using warnings

Warning patterns are used to highlight essential quality limitations to the user. They can be used to highlight if:

  • official statistics in development, a type of official statistics that are going through development and evaluation, have been used in the article
  • the research or methods being presented are in the early stages of development (and not yet official statistics)

Use a grey warning box at the end of the Main points or Main changes section to make users aware of any quality issues around the statistics or methods.

For official statistics in development, use the following standard warning text.

These are official statistics in development and we advise caution when using the data. The [method/data source] is currently under [review/development], which means [short description about how this affects the quality]. Read more in the Data sources and quality section (opens in a new tab) .

Official statistics in development should always be primarily published as a bulletin where they are the first release of new data. An article using the data can be published alongside the bulletin if more detailed analysis is needed.

For statistical research and methods, use:

“These are not official statistics and should not be used for policy- or decision-making. They are published as research into [a new/an alternative] method for producing [topic] statistics. We advise caution when using the data.”

Change the second sentence to describe your release.

More information on the methods used and quality limitations of the data can be included in the Data sources and quality section.

Data section

The data section provides links to the most important datasets used in the article. It helps users find the information they need and brings data from different topics or themes together in one section.

This section is only included in analysis articles that contain data, and it follows a similar structure to the Data section in bulletins.

Provide links to up to five datasets that users are most likely to be interested in. If your article references more than five datasets, choose the most relevant. Use the standard format for each link. You can provide links to previously published data if it is used in your analysis.

Migration data
Provisional Long-Term International Migration estimates (opens in a new tab) 
Dataset | Released 29 November 2018
Migration flows to and from the UK, quarterly tables and charts.

You can also include a sentence at the end of the Data section to help users access any other datasets used in the analysis. Use the following standard text to link to the related data page:

“View all data used in this article on the Related data page.”


Articles can include a Glossary section to provide short, understandable definitions for users who may not be familiar with the terms or concepts described on the page.

More information on how to structure and format this section is available in the bulletin guidance.

If the main purpose of the article is to provide a glossary of terms and definitions for a topic, use a methodology page instead of an article.

Data sources and quality

Provide a summary of important quality and methodology information about your article in a Data sources and quality section. This section should only be included in analysis articles, as it is unlikely that information articles will contain data.

Using a standard heading for this section will create consistency for users and help identify articles from other content types, such as statistical bulletins.

Highlight any important information about the data source and collection method, as well as any caveats about the quality of the data. Use clear subheadings to break up the content and guide users through the information by topic. For example, use subheadings such as Data collection, Sample size, and Comparability with other sources.

Keep this section brief and link to any existing methodology information using clearly written link text rather than duplicating the content and increasing the word count for your article.

Future developments

Our article audit identified that articles are often used to explain recent or upcoming changes to users and how these may affect the data.

Include any upcoming changes or developments in a “Future developments” section. Using this standard section heading will make sure users know where to find this type of information in the different types of articles. It will also ensure consistency on the website.

Use clear subheadings within the section to help guide users to the information they need.

This is an optional section and can be removed if it is not needed.

Research tells us that users have two separate needs from related links: to go into more detail or to find broader but related content. All articles include a Related links section to help users access this content.

Include between three and six links in this section. These links should be to:

  • any related bulletins or articles (either published on the same day or previously)
  • any methodology pages that provide further detail on the data source, method or project
  • recent ONS publications that also reference this topic
  • relevant articles that are published by other official organisations

Links should help users get directly to relevant content. Do not link to:

Important information:

The content design team can use analytics to help you choose which links to include – email (opens in a new tab) 

The Related links section should be formatted in the same way as the Related links section of a bulletin. Read more on how to format your links.

What to avoid

Appendices and annexes

These sections are traditionally used to provide additional or supplementary information, but they often duplicate content. Including these sections in online articles makes the pages longer and increases the amount of scrolling for users.

If the information in your annex or appendix is available on another page, use clearly written hyperlinks to link to the page instead of duplicating the information. If the appendix is lengthy and contains additional analysis or data, consider publishing it as a separate article that can be linked to from the article.

Authors and acknowledgements

Publications should not include an acknowledgements section that credits individual ONS authors. This is because we present our content as a collective organisation: the ONS. The contact field and contact details box provide users with the information needed for any queries about the statistics.

Our Co-authoring content section explains how to acknowledge the input of external contributors from outside the ONS.


User feedback is really important to help us improve our content or surveys, but it is not the main priority for users; research shows that most users want to get the latest analysis and data.

Include any requests for feedback in the Data sources and quality section under a clear subheading; avoid including a separate feedback section in your article. This makes it available for those users who wish to give feedback without interrupting the analysis.