What Makes the Index Different from Other Communication Guidelines and Readability Formulas?

You may have tried communication checklists and readability formulas before. The Office of Communications reviewed the most well-known communication checklists and found that many lack references and supporting documentation. And most checklists are long, making them less easy to use.

Readability formulas are inadequate to assess communication effectiveness. These formulas are a mechanical “count” of syllables and sentences; they don’t consider audience, purpose, or the majority of communication characteristics that contribute to clarity and comprehension. Short words and sentences affect some aspects of cognitive processing, but they are not sufficient for ensuring that communication is clear and effective.

CDC’s Index goes beyond checklists and readability formulas by:

  • Focusing on the most important research-based items that enhance clarity and aid understanding
  • Providing a numerical score so that you can objectively assess and improve materials based on the best available science
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