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Library Research Guides

Improving Health Literacy: Training Resources

Provides resources for training, evaluation, and writing for those who teach and advocate for health literacy. Also provides sources of information on quantitative health literacy research and methods.


The Plain Language Medical Dictionary widget is a project of the University of Michigan Health Sciences Libraries as part of the Michigan Health Literacy Awareness project. To use, click on the drop down menu to browse the list of high-level medical terms. Once a word or phrase is selected, the plain language translation will appear in the box.

This work was performed under a subcontract with the University of Illinois at Chicago and made possible by grant #N01-LM-6-3503 from National Library of Medicine (NLM) and its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the National Library of Medicine.

Original source of definitions: Plain Language Thesaurus for Health Communications, Draft 3, October 2007. National Center for Health Marketing, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Department of Health and Human Services, United States of America. #07-151(NE)/092607.

Sources for Illustrations

Pharmacy Related

USP Pictograms are standardized graphic images that help convey medication instructions, precautions, and/or warnings to patients and consumers.


Picture Stories for Adult Health Literacy, from the center for Applied Linguistics

Specially for the Web

A web style guide from Monash University (Au)

Plain Language Writing Guides

MedlinePlus "How to write easy-to-read materials"

Medical Library Association. Deciphering Medspeak.

From the National Cancer Institute, Clear & Simple: Developing Effective Print Materials for Low-Literate Readers

From Doug Seubert, Health Communications Specialist, Marshfield Clinic, Wisconsin, several resources for improving readability through good design

Simply Put from the CDC

The Plain English Campaign from the UK provides several plain english guides.

The Health Literacy & Plain Language Resource Guide from Health Literacy Innovations, an extensive guide to plain language information.

Plain and Simple, the Health Literacy Project from Iowa provides extensive information including first-person stories on the challenges of poor health literacy and examples of simplified print health information.

Print Friendly Plain Language Principles and Thesaurus from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration, with particular application to HIPPA privacy notices.

The PRISM Readability Toolkit is a comprehensive resource that shows research teams how to create consent forms and other participant materials in plain language.  It was produced by the Project to Review and Improve Study Materials (PRISM) at the Group Health Center for Health Studies (CHS) is a non-proprietary, public-domain research institution within Group Health, a health care system based in Seattle, Washington. Suggested by Jessica Ridpath.  Thanks!

From the VA's Consumer Health Library Panel

Reading Level Aids


Fry Readability Formula

Microsoft Test your document's readability

Other tools


Michigan Health Literacy Awareness Training Program

"This project has been funded in whole or in part with Federal funds from the National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, under Contract No. N01-LM-6-3503 with the University of Illinois at Chicago.”