Plain Language Resources

What is Plain Language?

Plain language is communication your audience can understand the first time they read or hear it. Written materials are in plain language if your audience can: 

  • Find what they need 
  • Understand what they find 
  • Use what they find to meet their needs

Writing in Plain and Understandable Language

How to Write Easy-to-Read Health Materials

Medical concepts and language can be complex. People need easily understandable health information regardless of age, background or reading level. MedlinePlus offers guidelines and resources to help you create easy-to-read health materials. 

PEMAT (Patient Education Materials Assessment Tool) and User’s Guide

A systematic method to evaluate and compare the understandability and actionability of patient education materials. It is designed as a guide to help determine whether patients will be able to understand and act on information. Separate tools are available for use with print and audiovisual materials. 

CDC Clear Communication Index

The CDC Clear Communication Index (Index) is a research-based tool to help you develop and assess public communication materials. 

Making Data Talk: A Workbook 

Making Data Talk: A Workbook was created by the National Cancer Institute to help you select and communicate quantitative data in ways lay audiences can understand. 

Plain Language Tools

Plain Language Medical Dictionary

The Plain Language Medical Dictionary widget is a project of the University of Michigan Taubman Health Sciences Library as part of the Michigan Health Literacy Awareness project. 

Everyday Words for Public Health Communication   

Everyday Words for Public Health Communication offers expert recommendations from CDC’s Health Literacy Council and other agency communicators on how to reduce jargon and improve reader understanding. You can search for public health jargon or plain language words and find alternatives and example sentences. 

Just Plain Clear Glossary

The Just Plain Clear Glossary by UnitedHealth Group contains thousands of health care and health insurance terms defined in plain language in English, Spanish, and Portuguese.  

Readability Calculators

Last modified: 08/28/19