We are all aware that a well written and designed instructions for use or ‘IFU’ can make using something new, a more stress-free experience. Although it’s fair to say that we have probably all struggled at some point along the way. The good news is that a test we’re all now very familiar with, the NHS COVID-19 lateral flow test, has a clear and user friendly IFU, which makes twirling a swab around the inside of your nose, feel a slightly less painful experience overall! This blog aims to explore what makes a good IFU and offer you our top tips to draft one.
The FDA states that IFUs are developed for patients who use drug products when they have complicated or detailed patient-use instructions. They developed 22 recommendations for IFUs to help ensure that patients receive clear, concise information that is easily understood. Inspired Usability considered their recommendations and pulled together a list of general top tips:
- Use lay language so as not to deter patients from reading the IFU
- Use nontechnical language which clearly states what action the patient should take, i.e. ensure the language is clear to a person with low literacy skills. To check the reading level of your content and improve readability, use the Hemingway app or the Flesch Reading Ease.
- Short words and sentences are easier to digest.
- An active voice can help, i.e. Shake the vial well’, rather than ‘You should shake the vial well’.
- Avoid abbreviations.
- Add headings to help the reader navigate the sections quickly and easily
- Headings should clearly identify what the section contains.
- Add sub-headings if needed.
- Headings should be bold as this adds emphasis but remember to use sparingly or this can negate its effect.
- Use title case for headings – with the exception of the title of the IFU, ‘INSTRUCTIONS FOR USE’.
- Choose an easy to read font
- Use sans serif in regular as it is more legible than a serif font, i.e. Arial.
- The font size should be a minimum of 10 points.
- Use a step-by-step approach
- Breakdown your information into more easily digestible chunks, i.e. steps.
- Sequentially number the steps in chronological order.
- Use bold, i.e Step 1.
- Use sufficient white space
- White space can be used to separate concepts and indicate change.
- Ensure the document does not appear cramped, overwhelming or too spread out. Bullets can be a useful tool to create uniformity throughout an IFU.
- Images should support and accompany the text
- Develop clear and intuitive images which accurately reflect the product’s aesthetic.
- Line drawings are often clearer than photographs.
- Give images a title, i.e. ‘Figure 1’ as these can referenced in the text.
- Colour coding
- Present text in black type on a white background to facilitate readability.
- Colour can be used for text and images provided all text and images maintain clarity and remain legible.
An example section from an IFU is shown on the right – there is good use of white space, visuals supporting the text and good use of bullets.
Remember – a good IFU can make the difference between a usable product and one that isn’t.
Get in touch today to find out how we can help you with the design, usability testing or expert review of your instructions for use and quick reference guides.
Neulasta® (pegfilgrastim) Onpro® kit Healthcare Provider Instructions for Use: https://www.pi.amgen.com/united_states/neulasta/neulasta_ifu_hcp/#start
Great content! Keep up the good work!