Math for Journalists

Math for Journalists

Calculators, Converters and Other Tools

Bureau of Labor Statistics: Inflation Calculator

T. Row Price: Retirement Calculator

National Credit Union Administration Deposit Insurance Estimator

West Egg Inflation Calculator
Calculate increases in prices over the years.

Martindales’ Reference Desk: Online Calculators
Links to dozens of types of online calculators. Gas Price Calculators

Zillow: Mortgage Calculator
Combines comprehensive outputs, showing a mortgage payment in full, with a smooth interface and attractive usability.

Pew Research Center: Middle Class Income Calculator

Online Conversion Tool

Calculate Me

Salary Calculator

Distance Finder Calculator

Universal Currency Converter

CalculateWhat Online Calculators
“Interactive calculators for many measurement systems both commonly used like metric and U.S. Avoirdupois and quite exotic like Ancient Greek and Roman.”

Financial Aid Interest Calculator
Determine compounded daily interest.

BankRate: Interest Calculator
Track the difference a small percentage change in interest can make on an investment over time.

Days To Pay Calculator: How Long Until You Pay It Off?
Enter the cost of an item and other information compute how long it will take to pay off the item you want to purchase. Helpful for writers doing consumer spending stories.

Use this iPhone app to point at a written or typed math problem and it will scan and solve it using AI software.
Determine distances, flight times, etc. You also can do this by typing into Google the flight time/distance, etc.

Databases, Research and Reference
Rankings and statistics on hundreds of topics and countries. The world’s cleanest country, the country with the most mobile phones per capita, etc.

Journalist’s Resource: Tips for Journalists Working With Math

Journalist’s Resource: Statistics for Journalists Tipsheet

Robert Niles: Statistics Writers Should Know
An excellent reference primer from Robert Niles on stats for journalists.Start here with several math tutorials!

National Center for Business Journalism: Newsroom Math Crib Sheet
Great math shortcuts and formulas from Steve Doig.

Ask Dr. Math

Poynter: How to Make Sense of Numbers in Science and Health Reports

Research Statistical Terms Primer for Journalists
Great primer from Harvard.

Investopedia: How the Dow Jones Is Calculated

John Allen Paulos: Mathematics
John Allen Paulos is a great source for math for journalists. He is a Professor of Mathematics at Temple and is a regular columnist on

Math Mistakes
Common errors by reporters, advertisers, politicians and activists.

American Math Society: What’s New in Mathematics
Includes a ‘Feature Column’ monthly essays on mathematical topics), ‘Math in the Media’ (highlights of math news from science literature and the current media), ‘Math Digest’ (summaries of articles on mathematics), and the ‘AMS Public Awareness Office'(press releases, contacts for journalists, and more).

Eric Weisstein’s World of Mathematics
Explores how journalists can use statistics.

More than 1,000 pre-solved problems, many with free answers, for geometry, trig, algebra, etc. A very handy site for journalists.

Pew Research Center: The Daily Number
Daily stat “that highlights an important finding or trend.”

Bureau of Labor Statistics: Consumer Price Index Database
Select an item (gas, food, etc.) and track price increases nationally over time. Great quick reference for stories.

History of Mathematics Archive
Searchable, and browsable by topics.

Encyclopedia of Mathematics
More than 8,000 entries.

Institute for Analytic Journalism

Fun with Math
A great site for analyzing numbers and coming up with odd facts and figures for stories. It’s great for comparing sizes, weights and gives the reader some perspective.

Check Your Weight on Other Planets

The Original Tipping Page
Lists acceptable amounts for specific situations.

The Megapenny Project
Help readers visualize large numbers in terms of pennies. Great for graphics.
How many seconds do you have left?

Mathematics of Tsunamis
The math and physics rules that govern them.

Math Basics

We wanted to share a good example of how to put some large numbers or obscure measurements into context that the average reader can relate to:

Q. Is there some way to put 488 acres into context, i.e., what is that as big as?

A. One acre is equivalent to 43,560 sq. feet or 4,840 sq. yards. One football field is equivalent to 57,240 Sq. feet. So one acre is 76% the size of a football field. In the Midwest, farms were homesteaded and also sold by the railroads in quarter sections. A section is 640 acres. A section is also one square mile. A quarter section is 160 acres. Three quarter sections add up to 480 acres. Where I am from in Iowa the farmers often talk in terms of how many farms a person has. If the farm was 488 acres the farmer would call that three farms or 3/4 of a section. Or just 488 acres.


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