Key takeaways in this post:

  • Clear, easy-to-read content is becoming a priority for healthcare companies, offering benefits such as an enhanced user experience, improved population health and lower healthcare costs.
  • Plain language helps readers find information quickly, reduces comprehension-related anxiety and makes content more accessible to a wider audience.
  • Clear content can benefit various demographic groups, including those with literacy challenges, non-native English speakers, older readers and people who struggle with reading on screens.
  • Plain language shouldn’t come across as “dumbed down” but smart and punchy. Aim for clarity and simplicity without sounding unprofessional.

Author: Rebecca Sims
Last updated: 07/03/19

More healthcare companies are making clear, easy-to-read content a top priority. Whether you call it plain language, a health literacy initiative or a goal to aim for a 6th to 8th-grade reading level, there are many benefits to writing clear content. Easy-to-read content helps improve:

  • The user experience (regardless of one’s reading level)
  • Population health
  • Healthcare costs
  • Brand trust

Easy-to-read content helps busy people find what they need — fast. It also helps readers who feel nervous or worried, which affects comprehension.

It provides a better user experience and builds trust in your brand.
There are tangible benefits to clear content, too. When your content is easy to read, it’s more accessible to more people.

That helps improve health and lower healthcare costs. The fact is, too many Americans don’t understand healthcare.

This can lead to costly problems, including:

  • Lack of preventive care
  • Poorly managed chronic conditions
  • Preventable hospital visits and rehospitalization
  • Unneeded emergency room visits

When done well, nearly anyone can understand your content without feeling talked down to, including those most at risk, such as:

Plain language shouldn’t read like it’s “dumbed down” or sound stiff or unprofessional. Quite the opposite, it can be smart and punchy.
Here are five plain language resources to help you be clear.

Think like Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway’s prose was plain, clear and anything but boring. He weeded out extra words (what he called “scrollwork”) to keep readers moving.

The Hemingway Editor is an online and desktop app that checks your reading level and shows you where to improve.

It highlights:

  • Adverbs
  • Passive voice
  • Hard-to-read sentences
  • Places where you can use simpler words

Check readability while you work or on a live page is another online tool to check readability with different scores and indexes. It has a free and paid “pro” version.

The free tool shows you:

  • Flesch-Kincaid grade level
  • Gunning Fox grade level
  • Sentences with more than 30 syllables
  • Words with more than 12 letters
  • Adverb count
  • Cliché count

You can copy content into the tool or check a live URL.

Read more >> How to use Readable and Grammarly to improve your writing

Use this guide from

Health Literacy Online shows you how to simplify the user experience through writing, design and navigation.

Find easy-to-read advice and tools from the National Institutes of Health

This site gathers advice, tools and resources in one place to help you improve content readability. It includes guidance on fonts, column widths and other visual elements that boost accessibility.

Take free plain language training to keep improving shares a list of online classes that teach the key principles of plain language writing. These courses are helpful for beginners and experienced writers.

Use the everyday words for public health communication tool

This resource on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website shows you how to replace certain words with plain language alternatives.

  • For example:
  • Screening = test
  • Adhere = sticks to
  • Carcinogen = substance that causes cancer

Share these tools and resources with skeptics to show them how clean, clear content can help patients, revive your brand and lead to better health outcomes.

P.S. This blog reads at a grade 8 level per the Hemingway Editor.

The WG Content team understands the language of healthcare and knows how to translate it into content that speaks to your specific audience so that you can be a powerful resource for your patients. Contact us if you want to learn more.

Content is any information that an audience can consume or experience. It can take many forms, such as audio, images, text or videos.

Readability affects how easily your audience can understand and engage with your content. Content that’s difficult to read may not be as effective in conveying its intended message.

Plain language is a communication style that creates clear and accessible content for all audiences. It involves using simple, everyday language and organizing information in a logical, easy-to-follow manner.

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