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  Hints to Help You Write Effective Handouts
  Are Medical Brochures
  What Makes an Effective
  Purchase or Make Your Own?
  If Purchasing...
  If Making your Own...
  The U-Write Solution
A) Content    B) Illustrations   C) Design    D) Production
Patient education handouts typically use two types of illustrations: informational and filler.

The best example of an informational illustration is an anatomical illustration. Its purpose is evident: to communicate more effectively than text. There's no argument here: a good drawing can accomplish more than paragraphs of text, and a good drawing also will help overcome language and reading level barriers.

It's the other type of illustration that is more interesting to analyze: the filler. By "filler" I mean that illustration of the person walking out of the hospital, or preparing a healthy meal, or tossing a stick for the dog. These images clearly aren't meant to communicate complicated ideas. And, as a self-publisher, these are the images that are easiest to do away with. After all, art's expensive, and these illustrations will cost as much as, or even more than, your anatomy illustrations.

What to do? First, recognize the purpose of these "filler" illustrations. What they do is break up your text and make it less intimidating. Pure text, whatever the reading level, is intimidating. When that same text is broken up, it is easier to digest. Filler illustrations break up text, and add color to pages. They also allow the eye to rest, and can set the tone for the page, to help the reader comprehend the message. When the reader flips the page of your handout and sees a kitchen image, the reader is probably expecting the content to include healthy eating. When it does, there is closure.
Having rationalized filler illustrations, now it's time to identify alternatives.
First, if you are going to create or purchase filler images, look for ones that can be used in more than one handout. Expect that a cooking or checking-out-of-the-hospital image will be useful in other handouts. An image depicting a patient in a knee brace has more limited reuse opportunities.
Next, consider icons, rather than complete drawings. An image of an apple may be as effective as a cooking scene.
Third, remember that there are other ways to make pages less intimidating. Use wide margins, and leave blank space on the pages. (We'll talk about this more in the next section, "Design.")
Let's look at possible sources of art:
1. Sources of Anatomical (Medical) Illustrations
Appropriate art is the biggest bottleneck to in-house production of patient education handouts. Scanners, color copiers and color printers have made it easy to create attractive handouts using art "borrowed" from Krames, Pritchett & Hull, and others. Don't do it. It's theft, and a handout with your practice's name on it and stolen art in it will inevitably make it to their offices and come back to haunt you, years later.
What are your options?
Electronic clip art is one solution, and very affordable, but some electronic clip art really looks like junk. Just be selective: use the better pieces, and resist using the images you know aren't good enough for your handouts.
Higher-end anatomical illustrations can be found on the CD of 60 images created by medical illustrator Scott Bodell. This CD is available through Artville, now owned by Getty Images.
Finally, commissioning your own medical art is an option. Although the price for a single image may be $500 or more, it can be worth it, since the quality of the art used in your brochure sends a strong message about your practice. If you do commission medical illustrations, look for ways to control costs, for example, by reusing the illustrations in different brochures, and/or by purchasing limited rights (see sidebar).
Two medical illustrators who are particularly well-regarded are:

Stacy Lund
Lund Studios
(410) 581-9977
click here to email

Steve Oh
Studi-Oh Medical Art
(415) 759-8419
click here to email

2. Sources of "Filler" Illustrations
There's plenty of free clip art available on the Web.But, you often get what you pay for...
example of ugly clip art   (free image that ships with Microsoft Word)
LifeArt, mentioned above, also sells some filler images.You may want to consider alternatives...
Artville, also mentioned earlier, offers a CD of medical "filler" images called Healthcare Constructions. These images are very nice, although they may be too "artsy" for some.
There are dozens of companies selling CDs full of photographic images. Ten years ago PhotoDisc seemed to own the market. These days, it seems to be iStockphoto []
istockphoto is easy to use. Search the site for a phrase that you think describes what you're looking for, for example, "doctor and x-ray" and see what results appear. If it looks like the site's going to work for you, then use a credit card to buy some 'credits." Then spend them during checkout. An image can cost just a few dollars, with larger files - higher resolution - costing more. Stock photography is great; the only reservation is with the medium, itself. If you're using a photocopier to make your copies, photographs can end up looking dark and muddy.
Finally, you could hire a photographer, and then maybe an illustrator to draw the photographs. But why would you, with the options above?
A) Content    B) Illustrations   C) Design    D) Production
Limited Rights
When you purchase "limited rights," that means that the artist is restricting what you can do with the art. The artist is maintaining ownership, so that he can earn additional money in the future, reselling the image to others, and even reselling the image to you, for future projects.

Money talks. If your artist is asking for a few hundred dollars per image, obtain more than one-time rights for one brochure. At a minimum, expect to have the right to reuse the illustration in any and all handouts given away by, and promoting, your facility.

The right to place the image on your Web site is also a consideration. Make sure your contract spells out such details...
© 1999-2014 by Bill Fridl. All rights reserved. Links to this site are welcome. Copying content or images from this site without written permission is illegal.
Contact us: U-Write, 222 Cleveland Avenue, Mill Valley, CA 94941 (tel: 800-4-Brochure / fax: 877-4-Brochure) Last Updated: Feb 7, 2014.
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