Writing readable science for a lay audience can be a considerable challenge for scientists. Indeed, they can struggle to write clearly in manuscripts targeted at their fellow scientists! Whether writing for other scientists or a lay audience, the principles of delivering a readable message are similar. But communicating complex ideas to a lay audience requires us scientists to think even harder about our audience: their level of understanding, vocabulary they are comfortable with and the messages we wish them to take home. We need a knowledge of the tactics that improve readability: logical presentation of relevant ideas, clear and simple writing style, good organisation of documents, and attractive and helpful formatting – to include appropriate visual aids when appropriate. Can we measure readability and therefore have quantitative targets against which to benchmark our writing? Are there tools to help us write more readably? We’ll consider examples of both readable and problematic text and aim to appreciate best practice when writing for a lay audience.

In this workshop, we will:

  • Define ‘readability’ and consider what influences readability
  • Consider the importance of readability
  • Review ‘best practice’ tactics to improve readability: good sentence construction, familiar words, subheadings, lists, diagrams, ways to communicate numbers and risk, things to avoid and much more…
  • Consider the best approach to write a lay summary of a given text
  • Explore quantitative ways to measure readability: readability formulas and statistics
  • Critically assess the use of readability statistics
  • Review other tools designed to analyse text and improve readability
  • Tackle the editing process using a ‘Readability Screening Checklist’

Practical elements of the workshop will include:

  • Analysis of participants’ own writing using readability statistics
  • Critique of poorly written material – how readability could be improved
  • Critique of well-written lay summaries – how readability has been achieved

This workshop is for those of you who want to learn more about readability, particularly when your role involves writing about science for a lay audience. The workshop is relevant to writing a wide range of material: lay summaries of research and of clinical evaluations, technical instructions for equipment use, newsletters, web-based disease awareness articles, medication dosing instructions, hospital discharge summaries, consent forms … and many more. You should have some experience of writing and editing scientific text, but you do not need specialised knowledge.


The workshop is intended to be a ‘two-way’ learning and discussion experience (not a webinar); questions and subsequent discussion are welcome at any time during the workshop

  • There will be a little preparatory work – a short exercise and some text to read
  • Lecturer will deliver short presentations and use examples of text for critique
  • Breakout rooms for smaller groups to consider/discuss the readability of text
John Dixon

John Dixon

Trainer/medical writer and director of Libra Scientific Communications Ltd.
John qualified in medicine having studied at Oxford University and Guy's Hospital, London. Initially, he trained as a surgeon, gaining experience in accident and emergency medicine, orthopaedic, thoracic, general and ENT surgery, and became a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of England (otolaryngology) and Edinburgh (general surgery). He then became a GP and Member of the Royal College of General Practitioners having had experience in paediatrics, neonatology, and obstetrics and gynaecology. Since 2003, John has completed an MBA at Warwick University Business School while working as a Primary Care Trust project manager. He then spent five years as Director of Medical Communications in a UK medical communications agency.  In 2013, he became a freelance trainer in scientific writing and medical writer, and is now Director of Libra Scientific Communications Ltd. Recently, John has coauthored a book: How to Publish in Biomedicine. 500 Tips for Success. Third Edition. 2016. CRC Press. John Dixon, Louise Alder and Jane Fraser.

Online Training

20 October 2021 from 9.30 am to 1.00 pm CEST

After the registration, you will receive all details about the connection.

The course will proceed with a minimum number of participants. Should this number not be reached the registered participants will be notified one week prior to the commencement of the course.

Early Bird: € 465,00* (until 22 September 2021)

Ordinary: € 595,00*

Freelance – Academy – Public Administration**: € 370,00*

* for Italian companies: +22% VAT

** Early Bird discount not applicable to Freelance – Academy – Public Administration fee

The fee includes: tuition, organizational office assistance, teaching materials and attendance certificate that will be sent after the training via e-mail.

Early bird
Acquistabile fino al 22/09/2021
Acquistabile fino al 19/10/2021
Freelance – Academy – Public Administration
Acquistabile fino al 19/10/2021

Versione Stampabile
Cosa saprai fare dopo il corso
Risultato atteso
Understand what determines the readability of a document
Risultato atteso
Appreciate ‘best practice’ principles of writing readable text for a lay audience
Risultato atteso
Appreciate what readability formulas and other readability tools measure and what formula-derived statistics mean
Risultato atteso
Recognise the pros/cons and realistic place of readability formulas and other tools
Risultato atteso
Identify text/sections of a document that can be made more readable
Risultato atteso
Use a range of tactics to improve the readability of a scientific communication to a lay audience

<p>Online interactive training on Zoom platform.</p>
<p>LS Academy will provide the access link to the virtual platform a few days before the training.</p>

Online interactive training on Zoom platform.

LS Academy will provide the access link to the virtual platform a few days before the training.

<p>Online interactive training on Zoom platform.</p>
<p>LS Academy will provide the access link to the virtual platform a few days before the training.</p>