How To

What is an Easy Read document?

An Easy Read document is a piece of writing that is specifically designed to be easy for people to understand. It combines simple language and shorter sentences with pictures to explain ideas. Easy Read documents are often developed for people with intellectual disabilities, but can be utilized by broader communities who don’t speak majority languages and/or have low literacy levels. Easy Read can also be helpful for people who want to quickly get the main ideas from a text without having to read through complicated words and sentences.

About Creating Easy Read Documents

To create Easy Read versions of documents it’s important to think about the people interacting with the content and the context of their lives. People have different levels of reading and comprehension. If producing documents for a particular person or group, it should be tailored to the words and images specific to these people. If producing a document for the general public, then assume an appropriate level of comprehension.

Some people will be able to read the document themselves. Other people will not be able to read it at all. They may have a caretaker, support worker or member of their family to help them understand the document. Therefore, Easy Read documents should also be easy for someone to read out loud.

How to create an Easy Read document?

General Rules

There are no universal rules for creating Easy Read documents. However, there are accepted standards and good practices. These include:

These rules are not only good to consider when creating Easy Read materials but across all written information to make it more consistent and easier to understand.

Document Elements

Front Cover

Your front cover should include:


Every Easy Read document begins with an introduction. It is, in many ways, the most important page as it establishes the context. The introduction should set out:


The Contents page is on page two. Contents pages can also include extra information about conventions like the use of bolding for definitions or underlined blue text for hyperlinks.


All elements of an Easy Read document should be working to make it as easy as possible to understand, and this includes the structure. The structure should have a clear, logical order, and should not contain unnecessary diversions. It is recommended to borrow structure from the source document and alter it as needed by adding, subtracting or moving whole chapters in order to make the document comprehensible. Ask: "what does the reader actually need to know?"


There are basic rules for the layout and design of Easy Read documents. These include:


It can be tempting to include as much information as possible and to essentially translate the original document into simpler language. But this is not helpful. One of the things that can make information inaccessible to users of Easy Read is length. A long document can overwhelm readers. The suggested maximum length of an Easy Read document is 24 pages, inclusive of a front cover, a contents page, an introduction and a back page. Each page should only include 4 to 6 sentences. There is no room for excess, unnecessary information.


Chapters, like the overall document, should have a clear logical flow. Often the first sentence will establish what the chapter is about. The second sentence should clearly follow on from the first, and so on.

What questions do your readers have?

Each sentence will throw up more questions, and the next sentence can answer it.


Sometimes it's necessary to break the logical flow. This can be done with subheadings. This is a great way of introducing a new idea that is still part of the larger chapter.

Avoiding Difficult Words

A huge part of writing Easy Read is simplifying difficult words. However, it isn't always easy to determine what is a “difficult” word and what is easy to understand.

AI tools are making it easy to generate a summary of a block of texts at a given reading level. This can be a helpful shortcut for writing simplified text for Easy Read documents.


Part of making information accessible through Easy Read is adding pictures to text. Pictures can provide context, and ground difficult words and ideas through recognizable images. These images might be of people, places, objects or symbols.

Typically, there is a picture for each sentence in an Easy Read document aligned to the left of the text. It is rare to communicate all of the information in a sentence in one picture. Trying to do so will result in a picture that is overcomplicated or obscure. Instead, the goal is to boil the sentence down to its essence. The goal of placing images in a document is to identify and depict pictorially that specific idea.

Finding Pictures

Illustrators can be useful in drawing pictures. However, stock images and clip art can also be used to create effective visual representations and may be more cost effective. Recently, AI tools have made it possible to generate images based on a text description. Generating or editing these images is a skill that can be improved with practice, but a few general guidelines include:

Pictures of People

Pictures of people can be useful in Easy Read because they personalize an issue. They can place someone - often a stand-in for the reader - into a context, whether that is a location or interacting with another person. They can also communicate mood - whether they are happy, sad or angry - or meaning through commonly understood hand signals, like thumbs-up or thumbs-down.


Objects are the simplest element to use. They rarely appear unless specifically referred to in the text. If an object is specifically referred to in the text, it is almost always necessary to include a picture of that object.

Buildings or Locations

Locations and buildings offer context, particularly to images of people. Pictures of buildings tend to be layered behind a picture of something else, such as an ambulance in front of a hospital or a teacher in front of a school.


Icons are a useful tool for adding extra layers of meaning to an image. Some icons do not provide enough information on their own to communicate an idea fully. Therefore, adding some text may be necessary to fully establish the icon's meaning. For good examples of Easy Read design, layout and structure visit the Document Library.