The data from the European Health Literacy Survey show that nearly half the Europeans surveyed have inadequate or problematic health literacy. Weak health literacy skills are associated with riskier behaviour, poorer health, less self-management and more hospitalization and costs. Strengthening health literacy has been shown to build individual and community resilience, help address health inequities and improve health and well-being. Practical and effective ways public health and other sectoral authorities and advocates can take action to strengthen health literacy in a variety of settings are identified. Specific evidence is presented for educational settings, workplaces, marketplaces, health systems, new and traditional media and political arenas.