Improving Readability by Design

When developing patient education handouts, the focus is often on the writing. 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, often referred to as “plain language" (among them using short, simple words, writing short sentences, and avoiding unnecessary words and jargon), have become proven methods for improving the readability of printed documents. A second set of recommendations, often separated from “readability” and referred to as “legibility,” can be easily overlooked.

This 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.

The toolkit is available as flash presentations with audio. Choose a topic below. Clicking on the screen starts the presentation. (Note: Only 4 of the 7 design elements are discussed in the flash presentations below. The rest of the presentations will be uploaded soon). 

Tools to dowload and use

(Tip: right click on a link below and select "save target as")

Click the link below to download a copy of the design readability scorecard:  

scorecard.pdf scorecard.pdf
Size : 0.053 Kb
Type : pdf


Click the link below to download a copy of this full presentation without audio. The full presentation contains many examples that illustrate the seven design elements.   


The following files are mentioned in the presentation and are offered here for you to download and review.

checklist.pdf checklist.pdf
Size : 0.498 Kb
Type : pdf
simple_experiment.pdf simple_experiment.pdf
Size : 0.028 Kb
Type : pdf
character characteristics.pdf character characteristics.pdf
Size : 0.317 Kb
Type : pdf


More tools to dowload

(Tip: right click on a link below and select "save target as")

Click the links below for more tools:



        © Doug Seubert, Health Communications, a division of Advantage Consulting Services, LLC