Background: Effective written consumer medicines information is essential to support safe and effective medicine taking, but the wording and layout of currently provided materials do not meet patients' needs.
Objective: To identify principles from the wider discipline of information design for use by health professionals when developing or assessing written drug information for patients.
Methods: Six experts in information design nominated texts on best practice in information design applicable to consumer medicines information. A content analysis identified key principles that were tabulated to bring out key themes.
Results: Six texts that met the inclusion criteria, were identified, and content analysis indentified 4 themes: words, type, lines, and layout. Within these main themes, there were 24 subthemes. Selected principles relating to these subthemes were: use short familiar words, short sentences, and short headings that stand out from the text; use a conversational tone of voice, addressing the reader as "you"; use a large type size while retaining sufficient white space; use bullet points to organize lists; use unjustified text (ragged right) and bold, lower-case text for emphasis. Pictures or graphics do not necessarily improve a document.
Conclusions: Applying the good information design principles identified to written consumer medicines information could support health professionals when developing and assessing drug information for patients.