Getting the write message right: Review of guidelines for producing readable print agricultural information materials

  • Craig D. Morris Information Studies, School of Human and Social Studies University of Natal
  • Christine Stilwell School of Human and Social Studies, University of Natal


Print agricultural information materials (PAlMs). such as leaflets. booklets and fact sheets. are used extensively to provide information to farmers. Such print materials can play a vital supportive role in extension. even to low-literate communities. Principles for repackaging technical and scientific agricultural information in print are reviewed to provide guidelines for producing PAlMs that are 'considerate' of the target audience's information needs. communication and language style. and level of reading and education. Criteria for choice of content include brevity. accuracy. appropriateness and relevance to the end user. An understanding of factors affecting readability. accompanied by readability assessment and pretesting materials on users. will ensure greater clarity of expression and aid comprehension. Important elements of the design and layout of PAlMs include logical organisation of content and arrangement of text on the page. legibility of the text as affected by colour and typography. highlighting. and the use of pictures to complement and reinforce the message. Such design tools should be used to attract and not distract the reader. It is concluded that a collaborative effort of communicators and audience in the development process will aid the production of PAlMs that contribute effectively to the diffusion of agricultural and development information in rural areas.
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