Indicators are widely used tools for evidence-based decision-making today. Yet, even very sophisticated users of indicators often forget or deliberately disregard their limits. Stretching good indicators beyond their inherent limitations may lead to inadequate policy-making. This paper examines how several well-known indicators in the field of governance, justice and the rule of law are used for policy-making in different contexts. It builds from years of field observation, debate participation and meetings with politicians and experts from around the world. Drawing from time-tested social science research principles and methods, the paper concludes with suggestions on the adequate use of indicators for public policy decision making in the broad policy area covered by the newly adopted United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 16.