This article reviews the usefulness and importance of written information, specifically leaflets, being given to patients. Evidence suggesting how both patient and doctor may benefit from the giving of written information is reviewed. Identification of good practice relating to the content and readability of leaflets is discussed. An argument is put forward that the giving of written information is an under-utilized resource in contributing to improving patient outcomes but that this may be changing with the increasing use of patient leaflet databases. The advantages and disadvantages of computer-generated patient leaflets are discussed and desirable further areas of research on computer-generated leaflets are proposed.