Frequently Asked Question: How do I give online instructions?

Illustration of doodle at a computer that says: "How to use this site: i) Turn off computer. ii) Stand on head and breakdance for 5 to 23 minutes. iii) Technique is key, with an illustration of a figure breakdancing on the screen.

Let’s say you’re entering information to set up your personal online health tracker. You’re cruising along checking boxes, when suddenly: “Hover over the options below for mouseover prompts to help make your selections. Then continue by navigating to My Health Goals.” Come again? Unfortunately, there are a lot of confusing instructions out there in internet-land. … Continue reading

Frequently Asked Question: How do I create a helpful style guide?


In this edition of We ❤ Health Literacy FAQs, we’re taking a look at style guides. We tend to get 3 main questions about them — hopefully the responses below will help! What style guide does CommunicateHealth use? We have an in-house style guide that’s focused on plain language, specific health terms, and our unique … Continue reading

Love Reigns Supreme

Supreme Court

It was a pretty good week to be an American. The Supreme Court made two rulings — one upholding a key aspect of the Affordable Care Act and one establishing that the Constitution guarantees the right to same-sex marriage. I don’t need to tell you why these decisions are important. And unfortunately (in my mind, anyway) … Continue reading

Frequently Asked Question: Can I use contractions in plain language writing?

Illustration of "you have" with V carrying in an apostrophe, saying "This'll make us SO conversational!" H and A look upset.

Lately, there’s been a lot of talk about punctuation (or over-punctuation) in plain language writing. Some of you have asked: If punctuation is a sticking point for readers with limited literacy skills, does that mean I can’t use contractions in my plain language writing? First, we totally agree about punctuation overkill. Health writers beware: Gratuitous … Continue reading

There’s a gap. Let’s fill it.

Stacy Robison and Xanthi Scrimgeour

We’re very excited to share an interview with CommunicateHealth president Stacy Robison currently featured in Business West, the premier business news journal of Western Massachusetts. The interview focuses on Stacy’s thoughts on the significant gap between consumers’ ability to understand health information and how effectively professionals are communicating it. Closing this gap, of course, is … Continue reading

Frequently Asked Question: Do I need this “procedure”?

Illustration of game show host standing with lighted sign saying "Come on down for another rousing episode of "Ask WHHL?"

We asked you, dear readers, to share your burning health literacy questions. Over the next few weeks, we’ll do our best to answer them. Up first: The word “procedure.” Is there anything simpler? Of course there is! We offer you 2 solutions — depending on how specific your content is. The gist: You can say what … Continue reading