Health Communications Toolkits: Improving Readability of Patient Education Materials

Doug Seubert, Health Communications Specialist, Marshfield Clinic
Marshfield, Wisconsin, USA
When developing patient education handouts, the challenge is to present health information — that is often complicated and unfamiliar — in a way that it is easy to understand. A number of recommendations — particularly using short, simple words, writing short sentences, and avoiding unnecessary words and jargon — have become proven methods for improving the “readability” of printed health education materials.
The Improving Readability by Design toolkit explores seven design elements that affect the readability of printed patient education materials and the key role they play in developing handouts that are both easy to read and easy to understand.
In addition, several other toolkits and guidelines are available on this website, including information on developing effective materials for low-literate readers.
The toolkit is downloadable from the Health Communications website.
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