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Health Literacy and Patient Education

This guide was created for health professionals who have an interest in health literacy, patient education and making healthcare information understandable to all. It provides links to books and journals, as well as other quality sources.

Working Groups and Initiatives

Guidelines to Creating Content

Assessing Readabilty

Readabilty tools measure the complexity of written text by analyzing measures such as  word length, syllable count, sentence length, word difficulty and active/passive voice. These tools give a general idea of how much education an individual must have to understand the text.  These various tools perform differently and give emphasis to different linguistic elements. Microsoft Word includes the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level and the Flesch Reading Ease tools, usually under Tools, then Spelling and Grammar.  *Starred scales are recommended.


Plain Language

Plain language is writing and speaking in a way others can can understand the first time they read or hear your message. Plain language is telling your story in a logical order, using active voice, short sentences, using common vocabulary (no jargon), and designing the message in a way that makes it easy to read. It is making a message clear and understandable, the first time it is read or heard.