Let's face it, journalists tend to disavow any love of mathematics. Their stock-in-trade-so they claimis
words, not statistics. Yet the reality is that journalists deal with data on a daily basis. It is integral to
almost all journalistic tasks we tackle, from examining match reports on sporting contests, or increases
in interest rates, housing prices or the consumer price index; to analysing opinion polls about the
popularity of our politicians, budget accounts or share price movements. Despite the common refrain of
journalists-'I hated maths when I was at school' -we constantly seem to look for ways to incorporate
statistics into our stories. We do so because they seem to provide our stories with an extra level of
gravitas and meaning, despite the warning inherent in the old adage: 'lies, damned lies and statistics'.
In this chapter we return to some of the fundamentals everyone learned at school and talk about
how they can be incorporated into our writing. In doing so, we also consider some of the traps that can
undermine our writing if we are not careful.