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Beginnings Guides Blog

Pulitzer's Principles for Useful Information

Working on the Beginning Guides content review, I call to mind Joseph Pulitzer, the famed journalist and newspaper publisher and his sage advice for all who seek to inform the public:
"...give it to them briefly so they will read it, clearly so they will appreciate it, picturesquely so they will remember it, and above all, acrurately so they will be guided by it's light."
 Brief means short. Short words, short sentences, short lines, short paragraphs, short pages, short lists. Shortness serves not only unskilled readers, but also highly literate scanners.
Clear means clear to the reader. Remember, Writers, what is clear to you is clear to you. The only way to know it's clear to them is to ask directly. Today I reviewed a paper submitted for publication in a scientific journal. That reminded me that clarity helps readers understand and value the information without having to work at it.
In addition to being attractive, picturesque means the words create pictures in the reader's mind so the can see what you mean. "Runny nose" creates a familiar, personal picture. "Excess mucus" looks like a foreign language, interrupts the thought, and reduces comprehension, recall, and reader confidence.
Accurate means scientifically correct and medically reliable. When the info is brief, clear, and picturesque, they will remember, so it must be accurate, by national standards, not just local custom.
Pulitzers Principles will continue to guide the ongoing content review and the development of new formats for Beginings Guides. I hope you will put them into practice, too, when selecting and developing info for families and patients.
Learn about the Pulitzer Prizes
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