Comprehension is affected by the many design elements that you put in your documents. You can increase the attorney’s comprehension of your LNC reports by following some sophisticated techniques based on research of readers’ preferences.
Use of justification to increase the attorney’s comprehension of your LNC report
Research about justification shows that people understand left justified documents the best. “Justification” refers to how words are spread out along your document.
Research shows that people find serif fonts more understandable. There are two kinds of fonts: serif and sans serif. Serif refers to the little feet on letters. Avoid fonts like Arial or Calibri in your written reports and use fonts like Georgia or Times New Roman instead. Many people think that sans serif fonts are cold. Save sans serif fonts for PowerPoint slides and websites.
Research shows that headers that have a combination of upper and lower case letters are significantly more legible. Also, unless you specifically activate this in your settings, spellcheckers are not going to pick up typographical errors in words that are all caps.
Decorative typefaces also slow down comprehension. Also, don’t put periods at the end of headers. That will signify a full stop to readers because they associate a period with the end of a sentence.
Subheaders break down paragraphs even further. Use both headers and subheaders. For example, when I summarized medical records to explain pain and suffering, I used a major header of the name of the hospital and the admission start and end date. My subheaders were descriptions of what transpired during that particular admission, such as surgeries or major problems or particular events.
Increase the reader’s comprehension by putting tints in boxes. Many people find that very attractive. Be sure the tint is not too dark. Black on a grey background can be difficult to read if the grey has more than a 10% tint. White on a black background significantly reduces comprehension. Think about websites that have black backgrounds and white letters. Many people find them so hard to read they just click away.
Large doses of bold significantly reduce comprehension. Use bold sparingly for headers or headlines but don’t put paragraphs in bold; your reader will have a harder time reading your document.
Readers prefer captions over figures and not under. If you include a medical illustration in a document, for example, or a table, put your exhibit number with a number above the figure or table.
Pat Iyer used her knowledge of what research showed to write her LNC reports and proofread those of the expert witnesses employed by her LNC business. She shared her tips on how to increase the attorney’s comprehension of your LNC reports in her new 2016 book: How to Analyze Medical Records: A Primer for Legal Nurse Consultants. Order it here.