Advocate for Clear Writing

  1. Clear Writing Campaign
    Print these posters, table tents, and flyers to teach others how to improve their writing.
  2. Advocacy Tutorial
    This tutorial teaches you how to make the case for clear writing in your organization.
Clear Writing Campaign

This small-scale, low-cost campaign will help you promote clear writing and teach your colleagues easy ways to improve their writing. The clear writing campaign includes educational table tents for break rooms and lobby areas, full-size posters, and flyers.

We recommend that you conduct the campaign in steps. Distribute and display the first set of materials for a few weeks. Replace them with the next set for another few weeks, then replace those with the final set. After a few more weeks, email the job aid to reinforce what everyone learned during the campaign.

Advocacy Tutorial

Learn some easy-to-remember facts about the problems with health literacy and the benefits of clear writing. The scientists and public health professionals that you work with may respond positively to these facts and be willing to make important changes in the way they communicate technical information to lay audiences.

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Health literacy is a problem — and it’s serious

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Only 12% of adults have the skills needed to understand health information routinely available in health care facilities, retail outlets, and the media.

People with poor health are 5 times more likely to have below basic health literacy skills than people with good health.

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More than 1 in 2 adults can’t use a BMI graph to
find their healthy weight, read a vaccination chart, or understand a drug label.

Environmental health information can be even more difficult to understand because it includes:

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✔ Complicated scientific jargon

✔ Difficult numbers and unfamiliar units

✔ Tricky concepts like exposure pathways, hazards, and substances

Here’s why using clear communication is SO important:

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Transparent language helps build trust in
your organization.

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Writing concise, simple messages saves time and money.

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Clear writing makes internal communication easier too.

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Audiences are more likely to understand your messages
and take action on their health.

But YOU can help improve environmental health communication in your organization. Encourage your colleagues to:

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1. Test their messages and materials with tools like CDC’s Clear Communication Index

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2. Include a short, clear main message at the beginning of their documents.

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3. Write all materials in actionable plain languageexternal icon

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4. Choose simple terms over complicated ones. And if you must use difficult terms, define them.

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5. Put numberspdf icon in context.

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6. Advocate for clear communication and health literacy training.

You can make your environmental health information simple, clear, and actionable. And we’ll all be healthier for it.

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Page last reviewed: August 21, 2019