Questions About Cancer? 1-800-4-CANCER

Clear & Simple: Developing Effective Print Materials for Low-Literate Readers

  • Updated: 02/27/2003

Appendix 2: Layout

  • The material uses advance organizers or headers.
  • Headers are simple and close to the text.

Keep Your Food Safe divides recommendations into two categories that organize safety advice. Headers highlight the categories.

Subheaders on individual pages also are effective reader aids. The subheads in Having a Pelvic Exam and Pap Test help group the concepts.

Example One: Keep Your Food Safe


Example Two: Having a Pelvic Exam and Pap Test

  • Layout balances white space with words and illustrations.
  • Headings use upper and lower case letters.
  • Underlining or bolding, rather than all caps, give emphasis.
  • Type style and size of print are easy-to-read; type is at least 12 point.

This example from The Pap Test: It Can Save Your Life!, shows how good use of white space can make a page easy-to-read and approachable for poor readers.

Experts have learned that using all capital letters as an attention-getting device is not effective with low-literacy audiences because the all caps style is harder to read. Large, easy-to-read type also is important for legibility.

The Pap Test: It Can Save Your Life! makes the task of reading as easy as possible. It highlights by using color, bolding, and underlining, and has a very legible 14 point typeface. Use of white space also is liberal.

Example: The Pap Test: It Can Save Your Life!