7 Strategies to Enhance Numeracy Skills

National Academy of Medicine


Individuals make decisions about health and well-being every day. Many of those decisions involve using and understanding numbers, and most of the decisions are made quickly, at home or at work, as a person goes about a daily routine. Even with adequate time, many people lack the skills to make good use of numerical information to help them make informed decisions. Health professionals and health systems also often communicate numerical information poorly, increasing the challenge.This paper aims to provide guiding principles for communicating numbers in a clear, simple way.

Numeracy Icon Array

University of Michigan


Sometimes known as pictographs, icon arrays are used as an evidence-based standard in medical risk communication. Icon arrays use a matrix of icons to represent an at-risk population, simultaneously displaying both the number of expected events and the number of expected non-events. This tool can be read simply by counting icons and clearly shows the part-whole relationship in both relative count and relative area. It is an example of Numeracy, which is how we communicate about numbers. Make your own downloadable, linked, or embedded visual graphic of risk/frequency.