If you stacked a bunch of things end to end, it would reach the moon and back twice. If you lined up all the candy made in that factory each day, it would be the weight of 13 farming vehicles.
But what does that mean to me? Do I have a better sense of “10 million candies” when it’s presented in units of “football fields”?
The first question should really be: do we think people struggle with the idea of “our factory makes 10 million candies every day?”
Because they’re probably not struggling with that idea… which means you don’t have to come up with a (meaningless) way to try to clarify it.
If your clarification makes it muddier, you’re doing it wrong.
I definitely have a better sense of numbers of things produced or sold than lengths of football fields, weights of rhinos, or distances to astronomical bodies (and back). In fact, I understand numbers and units of time really well.
The second question will be: what do your customers or users understand? What will they need clarified?
It’s then your responsibility to explain it to them on their level in a way that makes it completely easy, clear, and intuitive.
Real ones I found posted on the web.
The height of a stack of 100,000,000 (one hundred million) one dollar bills measures 35,851 feet or 6.79 miles. This would reach from the earth’s surface to the approximate altitude at which commercial jetliners fly.
I understand 6.79 (or 7) miles pretty well. Comparing it to how high a plane flies over the earth’s sea level doesn’t make that clearer.
The area covered by 100,000,000,000 (one hundred billion) one dollar bills measures 400 square miles. This would cover an area equal to one-third the size of the state of Rhode Island.
Yeah from the same web page. I don’t have a great sense of the size of Rhode Island or a third of Rhode Island.
A mole of 2-liter bottles stacked end to end would encircle the sun how many times?
Why. Just why. Does this count the distance of our bottles getting to and from the sun? Or they just magically arrived at the sun and now are circling it? And won’t they melt?
Stacked end-to-end these pages would stretch nearly 9,230 miles long, about the same distance between Boulder, CO & the continent of Africa!
That was a tweet and it didn’t say which pages. But I definitely can’t envision the distance between Boulder and Africa. Where in Africa?
400 Football Fields Could Fit Inside Samsung’s New Semiconductor Complex.
Um, American football? Australian Rules Football is played on cricket pitches, which vary in size.
Consider what has meaning to your audience.
Make sure whatever you say has meaning to your audience. Wacky facts can be confusing or distracting. If you have a figure that needs clarification, can you put it in terms that make sense to me every day? Time in units I deal with daily? Distances I deal with daily?
If people are likely to understand the information and data you have, then don’t translate it. Nobody needs to see a number of months represented as seconds. That’s not cool. It’s meaningless.