Medical Writing Plain Language and Readability Making leaflets clearer for patients

Volume 24, Issue 1 - Plain Language and Readability

Making leaflets clearer for patients


This article examines the clarity of several health information leaflets issued to the public in Europe. It finds that some of the language is quirky, ambiguous, and confusing. In one leaflet, the size of type is too small for easy reading, even by people with good eyesight. The article briefly discusses euphemism in health information. It also offers some principles for plain-language writing and sources of further guidance.

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Plain language and readability
President's Message
Time to make it shorter: Plain English in our context
How CDC is promoting a clear communication culture
Making leaflets clearer for patients
Online plain English and readability resources
Get real: Avoiding corporate gobbledygook
Transferring regulation into practice: The challenges of the new layperson summary of clinical trial results
Profile: An interview with Art Gertel on the Budapest Working Group
News from the EMA
The Webscout
In the Bookstores
English Grammar and Style Revising medical writing Reasons not rules: Backtracking, pronoun-induced Part 2 – Single syntactic unit revision
Regulatory Writing Briefing documents: A case apart
Medical Communications
Lingua Franca and Beyond
Out on Our Own


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Editoral Board


Raquel Billiones


Evguenia Alechine

Jonathan Pitt

Managing Editor

Victoria White

Deputy Managing Editor

Alicia Brooks Waltman

Associate Editors

Anuradha Alahari

Jennifer Bell

Nicole Bezuidenhout

Claire Chang

Barbara Grossman

Sarah Milner

John Plant

Sampoorna Rappaz

Amy Whereat

Section Editors

Daniela Kamir


Jennifer Bell


Nicole Bezuidenhout 

Digital Communication

Somsuvro Basu

EMWA News 

Ana Sofia Correia 

Gained in Translation

Ivana Turek

Getting Your Foot in the Door

Wendy Kingdom / Amy Whereat

Good Writing Practice

Alison McIntosh 

In the Bookstores

Maria Kołtowska-Häggström

Lingua Franca and Beyond

Maddy Dyer


Lisa Chamberlain-James

Medical Communications/Writing for Patients

Payal Bhatia

Medical Devices

Evguenia Alechine

My First Medical Writing

Anuradha Alahari

News from the EMA

Adriana Rocha


Tiziana von Bruchhausen


Clare ChangZuo Yen Lee 

Regulatory Matters

Sam Hamilton

Regulatory Public Disclosure

Claire Gudex

Teaching Medical Writing

Louisa Ludwig-Begall / Sarah Kabani

The Crofter: Sustainable Communications

Louisa Marcombes

Veterinary Writing

Editors Emeritus

Elise Langdon-Neuner

Phil Leventhal

Layout Designer

Chris Monk