Design Elements and Scorecard


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DougSeubert (8 years ago)

Hello. I am in the process of redoing all of my presentations and toolkits. Please check my website for updates and send me an email if you have any comments or questions. Thanks. website: email:

Slide 1

Welcome to the Readability Design Scorecard section of the Improving Readability by Design toolkit. The following slides will explain how to use the scorecard to evaluate the design of printed patient education documents.

Slide 2

This toolkit identifies seven design elements that affect the readability of printed documents. This could be in a positive or negative way. The seven design elements are: font, paragraphs, line length, how information is grouped within the document, and the use of graphics, color and white space. A separate flash presentation explains each design element.

Slide 3

The scorecard itself is divided into seven sections, one for each of the seven design elements. To explain how the scorecard works, let’s take a look at the first design element: fonts.

Slide 4

Let’s say we are evaluating an existing document, one that we have downloaded from the Internet of one that we already have in our patient education library. For each design element there are both positive and negative points that can be awarded. Positive design elements score 5 points. In this example, the document we are evaluating has fonts ranging from 12 point for the main body text, and 14 point for headings and subheadings. The document uses a serif font, such as Times New Roman, for the main body text and a sans serif font, such as Arial, for the headings and subheadings. Our sample document, then, scores 15 positive points. However, the document contains some minor design flaws. Definitions of medical terms might be in an italicized font, and a warning about side effects is typed in ALL CAPITAL LETTERS. Based on research in legibility and typography, text that is italicized or in all capital letters is more difficult to read. The section on fonts explains why this is so. Because our sample document contains some italicized text and some sentences in all capital letters, one negative point is given for each. The positive points are totaled, the negative points are totaled and then subtracted from the positive points to determine the overall score for this design element. Our sample document scored 13 points. That score is placed in the box on the right side.

Slide 5

There will be an overall score for each of the design elements. At the end of the evaluation, these scores are totaled to determine the total score for the document. Using the score matrix at the end of the scorecard, you can determine whether or not the document you just evaluated is designed to be easy to read. There is a total of 65 positive points that a document can be awarded. Documents that score between 65 and 50 points are designed well; however those with the highest scores are designed to be easier to read. Documents that score between 49 and 40 points have several minor and perhaps one of more major design flaws that should be corrected before using the document with patients. Documents that score below 40 points need a total redesign. If that is not possible, then it is recommended that you not use the document with patients. Let me take an extra minute or two to explain the methodology behind the weighted scores. I originally started with having the negative and positive elements scored at one point each. However, in testing, most documents scored more negative points than positive. So I tried it with a weighted scale. The positive design elements are very important. After all, a document that set in a font that is too small is very difficult to read, and often times won’t be read at all. However, having some italicized text in a document should not mean that the document should not be used. I found that by awarding five points for positive design elements and deducting one point for negative design elements results in a more balanced and representative score. Note that if our sample document was missing one of more of the positive design elements, it greatly affects the overall score. This tool is still being tested. As you use it, I would appreciate getting your feedback, letting me know how the tool worked or didn’t work for you. My contact information is under the “about me” section on my web site:

Slide 1

Improving Readability by Design Design Elements and Scorecard

Slide 2

7 Design Elements that Affect Readability Font Paragraphs Line Length Grouping Graphics Color White Space

Summary: The Readability Design Scorecard can help you evaluate patient education documents and identify materials that are designed to be "easy to read."

Tags: health literacy communication deign patient education

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