Do you know how readable your writing is? You can – and you should! With all the tools available to you these days, there’s no excuse not to know. I assure you that your target audiences know – instinctively. Once they start reading what you’ve written, they’ll keep going – or quit – depending on how easy or hard it is you’ve made it for them.
The good news is that you, as the writer, don’t have to depend on instinct. Take anything you’ve written and you can quickly determine how readable it is by calculating the average grade level needed to understand it.
For years, I produced a quarterly newsletter for a client, who required that each of the dozen or so articles I wrote and/or edited per issue had an average grade level of 12 (high school graduate) or less.
Calculating readability was once a tedious task. One way was to take a sample of 100-200 words, count the number of words, then the number of sentences, then the percentage of words with three or more syllables. Take the average sentence length plus the average of the longer words, add them together and multiply the sum by a factor of 0.4. The result: the average grade level needed for comprehension.
I did that for years, but there’s a better and easier way. I’ll tell you about it in my next post.