A fact sheet is a one-page document that provides basic information on a specific topic in an easy- and
quick-to-read format. If the subject is just too complex to reduce to a single page, consider creating more than
one fact sheet. Just make certain each fact sheet focuses on a single aspect of the overall topic.
Fact sheet are particularly useful to reporters and state and national legislators. What do all this groups have
in common? Very little time to gather enough information to write a quality article or make a quality decision.
Here are some things to keep in mind:
Write in lay terms, using words that the average person (someone without professional training in the
subject area) can understand.
Find ways to simplify complex ideas. Search for comparisons and everyday analogies
that will express complicated processes. Transform jargon into English.
Write in the present tense and as active as possible
Keep the text brief - no one wants to read tons of information in small font
Keep the most important information in the first paragraph - what the issue is, what action is needed, and
label the main message(s)
Use terms consistently
Double check all numbers and percents used
If details are given in a table or chart, there is not need to give those details in the narrative (use
general terms instead)
If using lists, put them into bullets
The fact sheet must be self-contained - do not refer to previous documents or assume that they remember the
One page is best
Use at 10-14 point font
The page should begin with the words “Fact Sheet,” followed by a very
brief headline that explains the subject of the page.
Use bullets when you can
Leave a lot of white space
Use bolding, text boxes, and graphics to emphasize important points
Simple graphs and charts can give the reader the information with just a glance.
Pie charts are the easiest to understand
Give references for more information - in electronic communications you can offer links
Typical writing errors
Identify all acronyms at first use, then use only the acronym for the rest of the
Example: The Center for Rural Health (CRH) was established in 1980. The
CRH is based at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine &
In narrative, use the word “percent” rather than the symbol
“%” Example: Of the 100 people who were sent the survey, 80 percent responded.
Avoid use of decimals when using percents.
Example: The population of North Dakota has increased just over one
percent in the past year.
Using numbers: In general, any number at or below 10 is written out as words, above 10 as numerals.
Example: During the program, information was sent to three communities
resulting in responses from 234 people.
Exceptions: When a number comes at the beginning of a sentence and dates:
Example: Two hundred thirty-four people responded to the mailing before
Titles: If a title comes before the name, it is capitalized. If it comes after the
name, it is not. Courtesy (non-degree) titles such as Mr. Mrs., Miss, or Ms. are
generally not used and should be used only when specifically requested (and then
Example: Center for Rural Health Director Gary Hart attended the meeting. Brad Gibbens, deputy
director of the Center for Rural Health, joined him.
Dates: There is no comma between month and year. There is a comma between date and
Example: We are planning on meeting in April 2019, possibly April 15,
People first: When using terms to describe people, it is a good idea to use “people first language.”
Example: Many of the children who are uninsured in North Dakota come from families with low
It is also a good idea to set the grammar check on your Microsoft Word program to check
style also. This is done under Tools, Spelling and Grammar, Options, Grammar, Writing
Style: Grammar & Style.