Journalists often need community portraits to get an understanding of how the system is working - or not working. For example, crime statistics are put into context when we see what communities with high or low crime rates are like. At the same time, social researchers have been critical of reports that use a single measure, such as poverty rate, to describe a community’s status. In their terms, the concept is too complex for a single measure or variable. An index is one solution. It’s a powerful way of describing a community with a single number that readers and viewers can understand. It uses readily acquired census data. It can be mapped in GIS. And it’s easy to do in SPSS. This tipsheet tells how to apply one popular index, the Social Disadvantage Index.