Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Clear Communication Index – A Tool for Developing and Assessing CDC Public Communication Products 

The Clear Communication Index (Index) provides research-based criteria to develop and assess public communication products. The Index supports the efforts of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to comply with the Plain Writing Act of 2010.  Helps to achieve goals set forth in the National Action Plan to Improve Health Literacy and the CDC Action Plan to Improve Health Literacy.

The 20 items in the Index build on and expand plain language technique    described in the Federal Plain Language Guidelines.

The Index at a Glance
Why Was the Index Developed?
The Index was developed to:
1. Identify the most important communication characteristics that enhance clarity and aid understanding of public messages and materials.
2. Provide a research-based tool for staff to develop and assess communication products for CDC’s audiences, no matter the format or distribution channel.

Who Should Use the Index?
CDC designed the Index for:
– CDC staff who write, edit, design, and review communication products for the public
– Contractors who produce materials for CDC
– Anyone who develops public health communication materials can use the Index.

How Does the Index Work?
The Index contains 20 items, each with a numerical score of zero or one. The individual scores are converted to an overall score on a scale of 100. Although 100 is an ideal score, 90 or higher is passing.

The Index assesses materials in these 7 areas:
1. Main Message and Call to Action
2. Language
3. Information Design
4. State of the Science
5. Behavioral Recommendations
6. Numbers
7. Risk

Estimated time required to complete the Index: 15 minutes.

CDC Clear Communication Index User Guide (.pdf)