Producing official statistics

How official statistics are produced and published by the Scottish Government and other bodies.


The Scottish Government works to make its web content as accessible as possible for all abilities and disabilities, in accordance with the Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No.2) Accessibility Regulations 2018. We have published an accessibility statement that provides more information about how our website is being improved to ensure it is accessible.

This page provides more detail about specific accessibility challenges related to statistical content. It also outlines the actions we are taking to address them.

PDF documents

In the past we released many of our statistical publications as PDF documents. These documents were not fully accessible.

We now ensure that we release all our publications in accessible HTML format.

Excel documents

Statistical publications are often accompanied by excel spreadsheets containing detailed data tables.

The spreadsheets we publish follow Government Analysis Function guidance for creating accessible spreadsheets. This includes ensuring that users can navigate spreadsheets using screen reader technology.

We also ensure that any downloadable files such as spreadsheets are given meaningful names. For example,  the guidance recommends that the overall title for your spreadsheet should give a clear description of the data and include the time period and geographical region the data applies to.  

We release spreadsheets in an open file format where possible, such as the Open Document Spreadsheet (.ods) format. Where this is not possible, we ensure that our Excel spreadsheets can be opened using alternative software.

Data visualisations

Our statistical publications often contain data visualisations. There are specific accessibility challenges associated with data visualisations.

All data visualisations included in our publications feature alternative text that describes its content. This alternative text will either be embedded in the HTML code of the image or included in the main body of text.

Our visualisations use colour schemes that use appropriate levels of contrast between colours. We also ensure that colour is not used as the only way in which we represent key messages within a visualisation. For example, by adding captions or shapes as appropriate.

Our visualisations follow best practice by using the Scalable Vector Graphics (.svg) file format where possible. This file format retains the quality of the image regardless of resolution or screen size.

Interactive content

Some of our statistical publications include interactive content. These publications are typically not published on the main Scottish Government website.

Publications with interactive content will include an accessibility statement that details any accessibility issues.

Readability and plain English

Statistical publications sometimes include complex or technical language that makes it inaccessible for some users. We are working to reduce the required reading ability of our publications and ensure that all publications use plain English.

Scope of accessibility regulations

The accessibility regulations do not apply to documents published before 23 September 2018 if they are not essential to providing our services.

Most statistics published by the Scottish Government are updated at least annually. Our priority is to ensure that future versions of our publications are accessible, rather than updating past publications. This is because publications typically iterate on the previous version, and usually contain a time series of finalised figures.


If you have any issues accessing our publications, or want to report an accessibility problem, please contact us at


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