Public Health Writing: It’s All About Audience and Purpose

Public health writing can differ in many ways from other types of academic and professional writing. First, writing about population health can take many forms. While the phrase, “public health writing,” is convenient and useful, it is also imprecise. Public health writing encompasses many types of documents in which we adapt our language, voice, and style to meet the needs of our audience.

Audience and purpose are critical. Public health writers always need to keep their reader in mind, and that reader is often expecting you to provide information and analysis to fill a particular need. Your readers may want to know about the newest scientific evidence showing the connection between housing quality and asthma. They may want to know about the findings of a study you conducted. Or, they may be trying to decide on a particular course of action based on research showing which option is most likely to be effective. Our role as public health communicators is to gather, synthesize, and translate information. And just about any act of communication starts with writing.

Continuously trying to Improve our writing is one of the most important things we can do as public health professionals. This is true for all of us: students, professors, researchers, community activists, you name it.


We’re revamping the Public Health Writing Guide. Watch the Public Health Writing Blog for new sections.

Author: Jennifer Beard

Director of the Public Health Writing Program

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