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Simple tips for including numbers in your press release

[1]By Salena Barcenas, Associate Editor, Los Angeles

Writing a press release that is concise, clear and informative can sometimes be a challenge. Toss in numbers and it can be difficult to navigate through percentages, ratios, dollar amounts, profit and loss stats and numerals. Here are some tips to help when including numerous numbers in your release.

1. Put numbers in to context for your audience. Cut numbers down to size and make them personable. A figure may be large for one reader but average for another. If it’s appropriate for your release, use a metaphor to illustrate your point that would otherwise dumbfound your audience.

Example: If your release is about the importance of removing snow from roof tops, don’t make the reader solve a math equation — [(1 US gallon) / (0.1337 ft3)] x [(1 ft3) / (7.48 gallons)] x [(62.418 lbs) / (1 ft3 of water)] x [(1 ft) / (12 inches)] x SWE (inches) = Snow Load (lbs/ft2) — to figure out how much snow sitting on their roof can weigh.

Instead you could use the metaphor: The weight of the snow is like having a baby elephant sitting on your roof. The average weight of a baby elephant is 250 lbs.

2. If your release has ratios use figures and hyphens: the ratio was 3-to-2; a ratio of 3-to-2; a 3-2 ratio. You can omit the word “to” when the numbers are before the word “ratio.” Make sure to use the words “ratio” or “majority” to avoid confusion with actual figures.

3. Per AP standards, spell out numbers one through nine and use digits for numbers 10 and above. Large numbers are easier to read and comprehend when broken up by commas. For figures over a million, use a combination of numbers and words so the reader can digest the information quickly.

Examples: The boat had four bedrooms, two bathrooms and was 150 ft long.

What is easier to read? 205780 or 205,780; 205780123 or 205,789,023 or 205.8 million

4. When you can’t trim down your numbers, including charts, graphics, tables and factsheets are helpful.

Charts can show relationships or changes in numbers over a specific period of time. Graphics such as a pie graph can easily display percentages instead of listing the break down. Tables are essential to financial earning releases when a company’s profits and losses are being reported. A factsheet can be a bulleted list with nothing but statistics and percentages that have to be included in a release but can be neatly formatted as an attachment (PDF) or come after the main text of the release.

If you decide to include multimedia to help your audience sift through numbers, images (in .jpeg or .gif format) and PDFs will appear on the right sidebar next to the text body of the release; take the table route, and it will appear within the body of the text. Any combination of PDFs, images and tables can be utilized.

So next time you’re done writing your number filled release, re-read it, and if it leaves you a little lost in the jumble of digits try to go back and simplify the information. ┬áThe easier your release is to read and process, the happier your audience will be and it may give your pick up the boost it needs.



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