UK dividend payouts grew by 14.5 percent to a record £37.8 billion in the second quarter of this year. The figures were boosted by a handful of large special dividends and the effects of the weaker pound. But behind the scenes, underlying dividend growth of five percent was actually slightly weaker than some analysts thought it would be.

Part of the problem - according to the latest dividend data from Link Group - is down to pressure on corporate earnings. A slowing world economy and uncertainty on the domestic front are reasons why dividend growth is slowing across the board. That said, large-cap company dividends, which tend to benefit more from the uplift of weaker sterling, grew much faster than those from mid- and small-caps.

Some of the strongest payout growth was found in the financial sector, with banking dividends up by two-fifths, boosted by a special payout from RBS. During Q2, the bank made only its second payment in over a decade. But over past twelve months it has apparently paid out twice as much as it did in 2007 - the last year before banking stocks hit the buffers in the financial crash.

Looking ahead, the latest research predicts that UK shares are collectively set to yield 4.2 percent this year, which is weaker since the start of the year but still higher than historical norms.

So for investors looking for dividend income, which factors matter most when it comes to weighing up a dividend? Here we’ve pulled together and explored some of the most common dividend measures and looked at what you might find if you applied them as part of an equity income strategy...

1. High (but not excessive) dividend yield

Yield is perhaps the ultimate dividend metric. It tells you the percentage of how much a company pays out in dividends each year relative to its share price, which makes it easy to compare stocks. High yields are obviously appealing, but caution is needed. When the market anticipates a dividend cut, the share price will fall, which actually pushes the yield higher - making it a so-called ‘dividend trap’. So it pays to be wary of excessive yields.

2. Dividend cover

Attractively high yields obviously turn heads - but it’s important to know that a dividend is affordable. Dividend cover is a go-to measure of a company's net income over…

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