How to Improve the Readability of Your Promotional Materials
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Twenty percent of American adults are functionally illiterate. This figure can be higher in minority populations who have had limited educational opportunities or who have language differences. To design materials for this group, keep in mind the principles listed below and those featured in the table:
- Less is more. Focus your instructions on the critical things you want people to know or do about their arthritis, and omit everything that is extraneous.
- When conveying complex information, break the information down into small components and provide review, feedback and questions after each section.
- Suggest simple memory devices to help people remember the key points.
- Provide the opportunity for feedback by encouraging the users to answer questions, provide examples or relate their experiences to the information being provided.
- To simplify your language, use a conversational style and an active voice (you vs. the client). Use short words and sentences. Provide phonetic spellings of technical, medical terms.
- Put the most important ideas in the beginning of the paragraph.
- Use visuals that show a clear message and are relevant to the target group. When appropriate, include sketches of people with whom the group will identify. Avoid caricatures or illustrations of people in stereotypical roles. Show positive, active roles.
- Avoid using abbreviations.
- Design a layout that allows for as much white space as possible. This helps people who have difficulty reading concentrate attention on your message. The layouts should encourage the eye to move from left to right, avoiding vertical or diagonal lines, which are more confusing. The use of arrows, circles and underlining can help focus attention on important messages.
- Use upper and lower case letters. This is easier to read than all capitals.
- When possible, use black print on yellow paper, which is the easiest to read. Black print on white paper is a close second in readability. Pinks, blues and greens are hard to read. Dull finishes are better than glossy finishes.
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