The aim of easy-to-read publications is to write simply and understandably, but at the same time in an adult and varied manner, and to use a combination of text and pictures. To achieve this we try to take into consideration the content, language, pictures and the graphic layout.
An easy-to-read text should have concrete content, usually with a simple story-line. Few people and places are involved. The course of events is usually described in chronological order, i.e. no jumps in time such as from present to the past.
Naturally the same criteria apply to easy-to-read texts as to other texts: if the reader considers the content to be interesting then it is easier to read the text.
The language should also be concrete. Long, unusual words should be avoided, as well as concepts that may have two meanings. "He is a big actor" may mean that he is a large man or that he is well-known.
Some of our readers often understand concepts in a concrete manner - i.e. that the actor is a large man. Neither do we use figurative language such as "castles in Spain" in easy-to-read texts, since such phrases can be interpreted literally.
We often choose to write two short sentences instead of using subordinate clauses.
One cannot assume that all readers are aware of places and countries or of dates. Such information must be placed in context: "1932 was when grandmother was young".
Pictures are important in easy-to-read texts. Concrete pictures should illustrate clearly what a thing looks like, without irrelevant details and strange angles. However, abstract pictures can also be used to express atmosphere or feelings. Other criteria apply in that case.
It is important for form and layout to be well thought through. It is easier for the reader to absorb information if text and pictures are presented as clearly and with as much space as possible.
Running text written with CAPITAL LETTERS or in italics is difficult to read. Many readers have difficulty in noticing full-stops and in reading long lines.
An easy-to-read text is thus often written with line-feeds at the end of each phrase. A new line starts at a natural point in the sentence, and always after a full stop. The reader can then make a pause at the proper place.
Over the years these rules have become more like a general framework. They are not to be taken too literally. An author of an easy-to-read text must – just like any author – use his or her intuition and linguistic sense. The author must imagine and relate to the readers / listeners in mind.
* More about easy-to-read – according to Centrum för Lättläst
Material you can download for free
The UN Standard Rules in easy-to-read English.
New revised edition with illustrations. (1041 kb)
The publishing of Easy-to-Read in Sweden.
Lecture given at the National Library of Australia, Canberra 1993, by Bror Tronbacke. (32 kb)
Easy-to-Read - an important part in reading
promotion and the fight against illiteracy. Lecture given at IFLA open session, Beijing 1996
by Bror Tronbacke. (33 kb)