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Plain & Simple: A health literacy project for Iowa


Four factsheets from the IDPH "Iowa Get Screened" Colorectal Cancer Program

A common idea in the world of marketing is that thinking strategically means making certain sacrifices. The creators of these fact sheets did just that. The color scheme and use of white space in the original versions was a great start, but there was just too much information to convey. It was overwhelming. For the second set, the developers selected only the information that was most important to their readers, enhanced it with appropriate graphics, and improved reader navigation. Bravo!

Brochure from the Iowa Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Supplemental Nutrition Program

The revised version is much more inviting than the relatively "blocky" original. The use of color and graphics increases the likelihood that people will actually read it. Also, the revision has about 20% less text. This increases "white space," which offers the reader visual relief, contributes to an uncluttered look and improves readability. In the revision, more efficient use of the text boxes that go with the WIC check sample also contribute to more white space.

Letter from the IDPH Brain Injury Services Program to Iowans following a reported brain injury

The original letter produced a response rate of only 4 percent. After incorporating comments from those who had received the letter and making use of tools on the Plain & Simple Web site, the Brain Injury Services Program now enjoys a 15 percent response rate with their revised letter!

Flyer for partners of the BASICS nutrition program

Submitted by the IDPH Bureau of Nutrition and Health Promotion

Even our partners benefit when our documents are more inviting! The revision makes good use of fewer and more "restful" colors, and the contrast is better. Cascading headlines and curved lines improve flow. Better organization, especially on page two, make the flyer easier to navigate.

Letter to parents of a new baby

Submitted by the Literacy Partners of Manitoba

How do you turn an impersonal form letter into something that is pleasing and easy to read? Click the links below to see how new mothers in Manitoba are benefiting from plain language writing.

From the April 20, 2007 EPI Update, a weekly publication of the Iowa Department of Public Health

Here's a good example of how to improve readability by reducing sentence length.

Documents on understanding heart failure

Submitted by Trinity Regional Medical Center

Click the links below to see how Trinity Regional Medical Center turned a 24-page document into a one-page chart, making it easier for heart failure patients to read and understand.

Other Examples of Easy-to-Read Health Communications