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

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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

How to (Not) Ask About Gender

Illustration of person ordering coffee and barista saying "Sure — I just need to know your gender!" Person replies "...for a coffee?"

Transgender issues have been in the media spotlight lately. (If you’ve been able to avoid news of Caitlyn Jenner’s coming out, we’re impressed!) Like many others, we’re hoping this media attention translates into meaningful awareness of the discrimination and harassment that transgender people often face when seeking access to jobs, schools, housing, and — most … Continue reading

How to Stop (the Use of) “Dehydration”

Illustration of person sitting in small inflatable pool, drinking from a hose.

With summer around the corner, it’ll soon be time for things like picnics, long strolls in the park, and… helping people prevent dehydration. So here’s another installment of “Complicated health terms: When to skip them, when to teach them.” As health educators, we often have to decide if a complex medical term is essential to … Continue reading