Creating Effective Brochures:
A Guide for Content and Presentation
Your brochure may be the first thing a potential member or donor sees about your organization. An effective brochure is informative, attractive, and easy to read. Whether you plan to print thousands of glossy pamphlets designed by a professional or a black and white brochure produced at home, a few basic steps will help make your brochure successful. This Guide addresses five basic steps to creating an effective brochure: Identify Your Audience
Consider Your Audience’s Reading Level
Write the Text
Design the Brochure
Print the Brochure
S tep 1: Identify Your A udience
First, identify the audience for your brochure. Do you want to reach the public, healthcare professionals, potential funders, or others? Be sure that your messages reflect the age, literacy skills, and the social and cultural diversity of your intended audience. Tip:
Remember, many healthcare professionals know as little as about specific genetic disease as the lay public.
S tep 2: Consider Y our Audience’s R eading Level
Many popular publications are written at an eighth-grade reading level. Use the following guidelines to lower the reading level of your brochure if needed: •
Organize the information so the most important points come first. Keep sentences and words short.
Use simple language and avoid jargon. If you must use technical terms, define them the first time they are used.
Use graphics or visuals to illustrate difficult concepts.
Use the active voice (“We found that…”) rather than the passive voice (“It was found that…”).
Use headings and bullets to break up the text.
Testing the reading level is an easy way to make sure your information is available to everyone. Most word processing programs (such as Microsoft Word) can help you test the grade level, or “readability,” of your material, similar to the way you check spelling and grammar. This can be set up using your Tools or Preferences menu. After you test the grade level you may have to change some of your text. Using words that have fewer than four syllables will lower the grade level. Using short sentences and paragraphs will also help.
• Keep it simple! Your information will be more accessible to the reader and less overwhelming.
• Make your materials more reader-friendly by applying the Usability Scale, part of the Trust It or Trash It? tool. See the Resources section for more information on this tool.
S tep 3: W rite the Text
Begin by listing the key points covered in your brochure. Tailor the brochure’s content to your audience. Potential donors might respond differently to information than newly diagnosed patients or healthcare providers. Depending on the audience, you may want to include information on some of the following topics:
Description of the disease (including physical appearance, cause, and age at onset.)
Description of who is affected, e.g., specific ethnic groups, males only, etc. Number of people who have the disease
Genetic tests available
Financial issues and assistance available for services
Support groups and other support systems
What to expect over time
Where to look for more information
The Content Scale, another component of the Trust It or Trash It? tool, includes additional topics that families, providers, and other experts felt were important to include in educational materials about genetic conditions.
Write your first draft and share it with as many people as possible to make sure that the material is easy to understand. If you have a scientific advisory board, ask the members to check the material for accuracy. Remember to include the publication date on the brochure so readers can tell whether the information is up-to-date.
• Just because you understand it does not mean others will! Ask people from your intended...
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