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Monday, April 24, 2017

10 tips to unclutter your healthcare content

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Marjorie Reece, Lead Senior Editor

If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter.

It's a quote that can be traced back to the 1600s, but it's more applicable today than ever.

Modern readers move through content quickly—especially mobile readers. If you're trying to reach these skimmers and scrollers, work at being concise.

That doesn't mean putting out choppy, flavorless content that doesn't tell the story. It's more about respecting your readers' time with clean, uncluttered copy.

Make your healthcare content tight and tidy

1. Go fast, then slow. Write with a quick hand—get your ideas down so you're not paralyzed by perfection. But rewrite or edit with a surgeon's careful precision.

2. Get to the point. Take a hard look at your lead, or intro. Can you find a way to get to the key info quicker?

3. Apply the "So what?" test. Cut anything that doesn't bring readers value. For example, avoid quotes from experts that echo or elaborate needlessly. Choose those that add new information or interesting insight.

4. Weed out unnecessary phrases. "As a matter of fact…" "It's worth mentioning…" "You might consider the following..." You may sometimes want a turn of phrase for a smooth, conversational transition, but question each use.

5. Make each word earn its spot. Is it needed? Does it add to understanding? Is it already implied?

6. Use common terms. Jargon often injects excess words. Instead of "Our specialized oncology care team facilitates treatment," you could say, "We care for you."

7. Focus on the action. Don't waste space on negative framing. You think this …. Well, think again. Or: Here's where you've gone wrong in the past. Instead, make your point, and use your valuable words to offer encouraging, actionable tips.

Pro tip: Keep paragraphs short—and use bold headings, numbers, etc., to create a roadmap for the eye. You'll make the content easier to scan no matter the format.

8. Embrace the bulleted list. Bullets can help you break up dense sections of related ideas. They're easy to skim, but there's an art to getting them right. Here are some great tips for digital content. We think they apply to print copy too.

9. Appeal to visual learners. Use infographics and charts to help readers cruise through your content and understand it better.

10. Learn to love white space. As you trim, it can be motivating to imagine the finished piece—whether that's online or in a printed piece. Reducing or breaking up text-dense passages can give the words that remain lovely breathing room.

Clutter-busters for hire

Coffey's experienced editorial team can bring order and clarity to your healthcare content. And when you team up with us, you can get access to large libraries of carefully crafted and compelling health information. To find out more, call 888.805.9101 or email us.

Related reading

7 things in your healthcare writing that readers will love you for
How to write great service line page content for your hospital website
Have a Great Workday! Breaking through writer's block

 


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