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Table 4 Primary care physician preferences for the design of printed educational materials

From: Redesigning printed educational materials for primary care physicians: design improvements increase usability

Design element Details
Length  - One to two pages, maximum
 - Short paragraphs or bullet points and point form sentences*
Layout  - Numbered clusters preferred over paragraphs
 - Two columns preferred versus one column, when appropriate
 - Single sided pages preferred by some physicians to make it easier to post materials on the wall or on bulletin boards
 - Bolded and detailed headings that explain the content of the following section facilitate finding the right information and help physicians decide if they are interested in that section*
Simple design  - Simple designs attract the user to the PEM*
 - Limited sections, graphs, and images*
 - Use of white space*
 - Limited color schemes that are neither too bright and overwhelming nor too light and pale*
 - Clear division between sections with the use of headings*
Visibility and accessibility of topic  - Topic and title should be bolded and clear*
 - Bolded topic and title help the reader decide if the content is relevant and of interest*
Key messages and highlighting of key points  - Main messages outlined at the top of the PEM*
 - Clearly outlined goals*
 - Key information highlighted to stand out from the rest of the text*
 - Over-highlighting can reduce the effect of emphasizing main points
Text density and busyness  - Overly busy materials may be discouraging to the reader*
 - Busyness can be reduced with use of white space, good organization of content, spacing between lines and paragraphs, bullet points, flow-charts, numbering, and a structured layout*
 - Too much text can reduce information recall*
 - Text-heavy PEMs reduce information retrieval and make it more difficult to scan for information*
 - Too much information on a PEM makes it hard to use in practice*
 - Electronic materials are more difficult to read on small screens if text-heavy
Use of bullets and point form  - Bullets and point form are preferred over paragraphs and full sentences as they facilitate quick reading*
 - FAQs (including the answers) work best in point form
Color  - Color is preferred and can be used to organize text*
 - Color can draw the eye and attract the reader to the PEM*
 - Color PEMs should print and photocopy well in black and white
 - Color can influence credibility and too much color can reduce the perception of credibility*
 - Too much color or colors that are too bright can compete with text and be distracting*
 - Color coding can be used to match text to tables or charts*
Font size  - Small print discourages reading (ideal size can be determined through cyclical usability testing)*
 - Larger print should be prioritized over ample white space*
Logos and developing organization’s name  - Logos should be used to show who has developed the materials
 - Use of logos can increase the perception of credibility
 - Logos are best placed at the top of materials, should be used sparsely, and need to be recognizable
 - Unrecognizable logos should be paired with the name of the organization
Templates and common formats  - Use of recurring formats across materials by the same organization facilitates navigation of the PEM*
Use of graphics, images, or other visuals  - Graphics should be labeled, be referenced in text, and use legends when appropriate*
 - Small images can be used to draw attention to an important area such as conclusions or clinical implications*
Tables  - Should not contain difficult to interpret numerical results such as risk ratios and odds ratios*
 - Use large font to make tables easy to read*
 - Use white space to make tables attractive and less intimidating*
Specificity  - Content should be specific enough to use in practice and not require looking up further information*
 - Conclusions and key messages need to be very specific*
 - Vague comments should be avoided*
  1. *Preferences that were confirmed or added as a result of this study