How to Write a Fact Sheet
The purpose of a fact sheet is to provide a target audience with compelling information in a clear and concise format. A fact sheet can be presented on a piece of paper or digitally, and it can inform people about a business, organization, product, service, campaign, event, or another topic.
Generally, a fact sheet should center around one issue and be no more than one page with a clean, easy-to-read layout. If you've never created one before, then you can follow some of the general guidelines below and use a fact sheet template if necessary.
The information you include in a fact sheet will differ depending on its subject and its intended audience. However, most fact sheets should contain the following content:
- List of supporting facts
- Call to action (What would you like the audience to do after reading the fact sheet, and how can they do it?)
- Sources or attributions
In addition to the content, an effective fact sheet should also have design elements that help engage the audience and clearly present the information.
It's a good idea to prune down your facts and have some logical order to them. A good structure to follow is journalism's inverted pyramid, which orders information from most important to least important.
The first fact should often speak to the significance of the topic that the fact sheet is addressing. In other words: Why is this important? For example, if your fact sheet is part of a fundraising campaign for an organization focused on preventing drunk driving, then you might start with this fact:
Drunk driving kills X people each year.
The next fact you list might focus on relevance: Why should the target audience care? Here's an example:
You are X times more likely to be hurt or killed by a drunk driver than you are to be hurt or killed by a criminal.
Comparisons are also typical. The press and public may want to know how to measure products, companies or problems against other ones that they're familiar with.
Common Mistakes to Avoid
Small font: A fact sheet should be easy to take in. You don't want readers struggling to read your fact sheet because the words are too small. If you're having trouble deciding on font size then it's better to go bigger in this case. Don't use smaller fonts so you can fit more information on the page.
Too much information: It can be easy to get carried away collecting many facts and statistics related to an issue, but you'll want to avoid putting it all in one fact sheet. You could overwhelm your audience with too much information at once. Focus on narrowing your fact sheet down to the minimum amount of information you need to get a point across. The idea is to create a big impact with a small amount of essential information.
Sources burying the facts: It is important to include sources and attributions for your facts. However, the facts should still be the star of the show. It's usually better to list sources and attributions as footnotes or at the bottom of a fact sheet rather than including them in the main body of the sheet.
Outdated information: Make sure that the information you include on your fact sheet is as current as possible. Don't cite statistics from studies that took place years ago when there's a more current one available. If you're going to use the same fact sheet from year to year, then be sure to revise it with the most current information.