Two Minute Tips

Tuesday's 2-Minute Tip

January 4, 2022
Photo by Pexels user Karolina Grabowska

Making big numbers relatable

When you’re dealing with a huge sum—say, a proposed $1.9 trillion spending package, or adding $160 billion to the national debt—it pays to break it down into something the audience can relate to. Instead of throwing a massive number at them, engage them by putting the number in more easily understandable context.

Most people may have a hard time picturing how much $1.9 trillion actually is. Something much easier to comprehend is the cost of weekend passes to Disneyland or a brand-new Tesla. Try playing around with those types of figures in order to translate large sums into a more relatable representation of what that money can do.

Depending on how you want to break down the numbers, the price tag can seem like it goes a long way or like they it doesn’t go far enough when you compare it to other forms of spending.

For example, $1.9 trillion equates to:

When you write a story that involves large numbers, taking the time to break down those gargantuan sums into something more relatable and understandable for the average consumer can make all the difference, allowing average readers to be more informed and engaged with the economy.


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The Reynolds Center for Business Journalism is starting 2023 with a new look that we hope better illustrates our core mission to provide accurate and authoritative resources about business journalism, in order to help both reporters and news consumers understand the importance of business news and to demystify the sometimes arcane topics it covers.
Businesses, markets, and economies move in cycles – ups and downs – which is why our new logo contains a “candlestick” chart representing increases as well as downturns, and serves as a reminder that volatility is an unavoidable attribute of modern life. But it’s also possible to prepare for volatility by being well informed, and informing the general public to help level the information playing field is the primary goal of business journalism. The Reynolds Center is committed to supporting that goal, which is why the candlestick pattern in our logo merges directly into the name of our founding sponsor, Donald W. Reynolds.
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