Lauren Baba and Carol Cahill on Evaluation writing for community partners and other audiences – Part 2

We are Lauren Baba and Carol Cahill with the Center for Community Health and Evaluation (CCHE), part of Group Health Research Institute (GHRI) in Seattle. Our team of consultants works with various stakeholders to evaluate community health initiatives, clinic-community linkages, and health improvement coalitions. We are always brainstorming new ways to make evaluation reports creative, accessible, and interesting for community partners. Drawing on the team’s 20 years of experience, we have developed reporting recommendations to help evaluators present findings that resonate with different target audiences and clients. In part 1 we focused on report content and in part 2 we consider report formatting.

Hot Tip: Make it easy for your readers to discover the key messages in your evaluation findings. Build in plenty of white space on your pages (which leaves some room for placing key quotations). Take some advice from those who write for the web and keep section headers under seven words and paragraphs under 55 characters wide (8-11 words); see CCHE’s issue briefs for the National Leadership Academy for the Public’s Health.

Hot Tip: Since many reports are read on a screen, consider landscape format. In fact, why not create your reports using PowerPointÔ? You can make a report template with custom colors and fonts, and with creative use of text boxes you can easily create two- or three-column layouts. See Nancy Duarte’s SlidedocsÔ, including templates you can download for free. Landscape orientation also leaves more breathing room for charts and tables. For an example, see this CCHE report on a community program. Be sure and check out Angelina Lopez’s AEA Coffee Break Webinar from April 28 that focused on these alternative reporting formats.

Hot Tip: Speaking of charts and tables, make sure you choose the right chart for your data and consider including a “takeaway message” as the chart title. Simplify formatting of tables to make them clean and easy to read: eliminate extraneous lines, avoid shading, and get rid of duplicate labels.

Rad Resources: Check out this interactive table makeover from Darkhorse Analytics. And remember, both Stephanie Evergreen and Ann Emery provide excellent data visualization advice in their blogs.

Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to . aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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