Guidelines for Effective Printed Educational Material in Nursing Education

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Guidelines for Effective Printed Educational Material in Nursing Education


Guidelines for Effective Printed Educational Material in Nursing Education

Effectiveness of Printed Educational Material,Reduce Concept Density One Idea One Sentence,Original Paragraph,Revised Paragraph,Low Density of Word for Each Sentence,Page Layout and Page Margins ,Right Sided Justified Margins,Use of Arrows for Writing Direction,Use of Familiar/Easy Writing Style, Font Size & Font Case,Highlight Important Things,Text Color,Simple Cover Page ,Length of Document,Selection of Paper for Hard Copy,Unnecessary Use of Graphics,Careful Use of Graphics,Use of Simple Title,Summary Section.

Effectiveness of Printed Educational Material

Reduce Concept Density One Idea One Sentence

    Reduce concept density by limiting each to a simple paragraph message or action and include only one idea per sentence. In the following example, the original paragraph (American Heart Association, 1983) contains at least six concepts. As rewritten, the revised paragraph has been reduced to four concepts and is written using a personalized approach. Please note that the information from this 1983 source is not current and is used for illustrative purposes only.

Original Paragraph 

    A person who has had a stroke may or may not be able to return to his or her former level of functioning, depending on the extent and location of brain damage. Mental attitude, efforts of the rehabilitation team, and the understanding of family and friends also affect the patient's progress. Recovery must be gradual, but it should begin the moment the patient is hospitalized. 

    After the patient is tested to determine the extent of brain damage, rehabilitation such as physical, speech, and occupational therapy should begin. Family and friends should be told how to handle special problems the stroke victim may have, such as irrational behavior or difficulty communicating.

Revised Paragraph 

    Getting back to your normal life after a stroke is an important part of your recovery. Each stroke patient is different. Your progress depends on where and how much your brain is damaged. Getting better will take time. The care you get will begin while you are in the hospital. How you think and feel about what happened to you will help you handle special problems. The care given by the nurses, doctors, and other health professionals is also very helpful to you. The support you get from your family and friends is important, too.

Low Density of Word for Each Sentence

    Keep density of words low by not exceeding 30 to 40 characters (letters) per line. The number of words in each line is influenced by the size of the font.

Page Layout and Page Margins 

    Allow for plenty of white space in margins, and use generous spacing between paragraphs and double spacing within paragraphs to reduce density. Pages that are not crowded seem less overwhelming to the reader with low literacy skills.

Right Sided Justified Margins

    Keep right margins unjustified because the jagged right margins help the reader distinguish one line from another. In this way, the eye does not have to adjust to different spacing between letters and words as it does with justified type.

Use of Arrows for Writing Direction

    Design layouts that encourage eye movement from left to right, as in normal reading. In simple drawings and diagrams, using arrows or circles that give direction is helpful, but do not add too many elements to a schematic.

Use of Familiar,/Easy Writing Style, Font Size & Font Case

    Select a simple type style (serif, Times New Roman, or Courier) and a large font (14 or 16 point size) in the body of the text for ease of reading and to increase motivation to read. A sans serif font (which does not have the little hooks at the top and bottom of letters) or other type of clean style should be used only for titles to give style to the page. Avoid italics, fancy lettering, and ALL CAPITAL letters. 

    Low literate readers are not fluent with the alphabet and need to look at each letter to recognize a word. To facilitate their decoding of words in titles, headings, and subheadings, use uppercase and lowercase letters, which provide reading cues given by tall and short letters on the type line. Avoid using a large stylized letter to begin a new paragraph, such as in this example.

Highlight Important Things

    Highlight important ideas or key terms with bold type or underlining. but never use all capital letters or italics.

Text Color

    If using color, employ it consistently throughout the text to emphasize key points or to organize topics. Color, if applied appropriately, attracts the reader. Red, yellow, and orange are warm colors, which are more eye-catching and easier to read than cold colors such as violet, blue, and green. Use bold, solid colors and avoid pastel colors that all look gray to older adults with vision problems, such as cataracts.

Simple Cover Page 

    Create a simple cover page with a title (in uppercase and lowercase lettering) that clearly and succinctly states the topic to be addressed. The title should ideally be one to four words in length.

Length of Document

    Limit the length of a document the shorter, the better. It should be long enough just to cover the essential, need-to-know information. Too many pages with nice-to-know information will turn off even the most eager and capable reader.

Selection of Paper for Hard Copy

    Select paper on which the typeface is easy to read. Black print on white paper is most easily read and most economical. Dull finishes reduce the glare of light. Avoid high gloss paper, which reflects light into the eyes of the reader and is usually too formal and not in harmony with the purpose and informal tone of your message. Use bold line drawings and simple, realistic pictures and diagrams. Basic visuals help the reader to better understand the text information. Use cartoons judiciously, however, because they can trivialize the message and make it less credible.

Unnecessary Use of Graphics

    Graphic designs that are strictly decorative should never be used because they are distracting and confusing. Also, never superimpose words on a background design because it makes reading the letters of the words very difficult. Only illustrations that enhance understanding of the text and that relate specifically to the message should be included. 

Careful Use of Graphics

    Be careful to use pictures that portray the messages intended. For example, avoid using a picture of a pregnant woman smoking or drinking alcohol-this negative message is dependent on careful reading of the text to correct a faulty impression. The visuals should clearly show only those actions that you want the reader to do and remember. Be sure that visuals do not communicate cultural bias.

Use of Simple Title

    Use simple subtitles and captions for each picture. Also, be sure drawings are recognizable to the audience. For instance, if you draw a picture of the lungs, be certain they are within the outline of the person's body to accurately depict the location of the organs. The person with low literacy may not know what he or she is looking at if the lungs are not put in context with the body's torso. However, pictures do not necessarily make the text easier to read if the readability level remains high.

Summary Section 

    Include a summary section using bullet points or a numbered list to review what has already been presented. A question-and-answer format using the client's point of view is an effective way to summarize information in single units using a conversational style.

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