How to cite statistics in an op-ed

How to cite statistics in an op-ed

An op-ed writer should always strive to substantiate his opinions with facts. If any of those facts aren’t immediately obvious or widely known, the writer should generally cite his source.

There are two ways to do so.

A writer can introduce the fact first, and then name the source at the end of the sentence. This structure is most useful when the writer wants to place greater emphasis on the fact itself. It also works well when the source is relatively obscure or uninfluential.

E.g. Regulation ABC will cost firms $5 billion over the next decade, according to a study from Little Known Consulting Company.

By contrast, a writer may want to lead with the source to underscore its influence.

E.g. Harvard economists estimate regulation ABC will cost firms $5 billion over the next decade.

This structure is also useful when the fact is relatively intuitive.

E.g. A recent Gallup poll confirms that nearly all CEOs believe regulations create a financial burden for their firms.

In short, writers must ask themselves whether the fact or the source is the more important part of the sentence. The answer should dictate their sentence structure.

Colin Valentine