Numeracy Primer: How to Write About Numbers (Public Edition)

Course Overview

Numeracy Primer: How to Write About Numbers (Public Edition)
Self-Directed Course
Time Estimate:
2-4 hours

Order a custom Digital Course Pack with this primer for just $14.95 per student, or add the News Literacy Primer or Numeracy Primer or Language Primer for $24.95. Or bundle all three primers for 34.95. Each comes with access to your students’ scores through an Instructor Dashboard™. Email for more information.

About Self-Directed Courses

In a self-directed course, you can start and stop whenever you like, progressing entirely at your own pace and going back as many times as you want to review the material.

That journalists are notoriously bad at math is an old cliche ... but like many cliches and tired jokes, it does have the faintest glimmer of truth.

Reporters on the business beat or covering city government expect to deal with numbers in most stories, but they're not the only ones. Numbers crop up in media stories in the most unexpected places. Science and health reporting. Education. Food stories. Weather: I challenge you to find a story about climate change, drought, even forest fires that is not chock full of numbers.

And as journalism confronts the age of Big Data, more numbers are appearing in more and more places. Only now, they're dressed up as data and hobnob with fancy friends like "correlation" and "analytics." What's a hapless journalist to do?

The Numeracy Primer is here to help you confront these numbers head-on and write about them accurately, ethically and elegantly.

The Numeracy Primer offers brief reviews of some of the skills needed to calculate some numbers, but this is primarily a course on writing about numbers, not calculating them. If you find that your skills are rusty and in need of refreshment, please take a look at some of the other NewsU courses that focus on numbers. These include: Math for Journalists: Help with Numbers, a self-directed course, and There's Math In My Journalism! Solving Your Numbers Problems, a Webinar replay.

Want to integrate this course into your curriculum or your organization's training program? Contact us at We can create a special edition of this course for your students or staffers. As a bonus, you'll get access to an Instructor Dashboard™, giving you access to their assessment scores.

Looking for more? We also offer a Language Primer, News Literacy Primer and a host of other courses you can build into Digital Course Packs to supplement your syllabus. Let NewsU be your online resource for teaching tools.

Course Instructor:

Pam Hogle

Pamela Hogle is a freelance writer and editor. She holds master’s degrees in journalism and canine studies. Pam has taught editing at USFSP and worked as a copy editor at The Jerusalem Report and as a technical and marketing writer for NDS Technologies.