Answered By: Ashley Guy, Nursing Librarian
Last Updated: Nov 27, 2019     Views: 8

What to consider when creating your patient brochure

The American Academy of Family Physicians provides helpful information to know when you are creating a patient handout:

  • The average American adult reads at an eighth-grade level. Patients, especially those with limited literacy, do not understand common medical terms, such as rectum, stool, or screening.
  • Even highly literate patients prefer simple, easy to read handouts
  • Most patients only retain two to four key points from a handout

When designing your handout, consider the following:

  • Keep it short and concise
  • Use wide margins and leave white space between sections
  • Keep it simple by using short sentences and short paragraphs, consider using bulleted lists
  • Make it personal by using "you" as if you were addressing a patient in-person
  • Focus on what patients NEED to know, instead of what is nice for them to know
  • Focus on what patients need to DO, instead of etiology, anatomy, etc.
  • Be specific, such as "drink 8 ounces of water at least four times a day" instead of "Drunk plenty of fluids"
  • Avoid medical jargon and terminology, unless necessary
  • Be aware of language, customs, and values to create a culturally sensitive brochure
  • Organize information using headings
  • Use images, when appropriate, and within reason

The CDC offers a fantastic guide for creating easy-to-understand materials, which includes a checklist on page 29 (Appendix A):

How to create a patient brochure

There are many different tools you can use to make your brochure. A simple Google search for "brochure maker" or "brochure template" will bring up many results. Microsoft Word is the most common.  Word has over a dozen brochure templates you can use to get you started: 

If you need help creating your brochure in Microsoft Word, you can find many tutorials in YouTube:


American Academy of Family Physicians. (n.d.). American Family Physician patient handout instructions. Retrieved from

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