How to make numbers meaningfulHow rare is it to be born on February 29, the extra day in a Leap Year? By chance I was travelling on this year’s extra day, and found this explanation by journalist Steve Rubenstein in the San Francisco Chronicle:

“Being born on Feb. 29 is rare, sort of. The odds of it happening are 1 in 1,461. But it’s not all that rare. There are 200,000 Americans alive today who were born on Feb. 29, enough people to fill every seat in AT&T Park five times.”

This explanation is a great example of putting numbers into context. What are odds of 1 in 1,461? Chances are, few people have any real idea. That’s why you’re doing readers (and listeners) a service by relating the unknown to the known, especially when it comes to large, small or significant numbers.

Read tips for doing so with more examples in the June issue of my Wordnerdery newsletter.

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