How Readable Is Your Writing? (Part 2)
In my last post, I described a rather tedious process for calculating the readability of what you write. I used it for years. But now, there’s a better way. In your Word document, simply highlight the writing sample, go to www.readable.io, click Text, paste in the sample and instantly see the average grade level your readers must have reached in order to understand it; it’s also known as the Fog Index.
A word of caution: finding that level is just the first step. Comprehension and readability are not the same thing. According to The Wall Street Journal, “People prefer to read well below their education level, and at a fog index of 13—college freshman—even a Ph.D’s eyes may start to glaze a bit. At 17 virtually the whole audience has fled.”
Most business magazines are written at the 9-10 level. I once read that TV Guide is at 6, and Reader’s Digest at 8. So, unless you’re writing a doctoral thesis or a legal brief, I strongly recommend you aim for a level of 10 to 12, or below. Once you start doing it, you’ll find it comes naturally. (I just checked; this article is at 7.)
If your writing is higher than 12, and you’re struggling with how to lower it, send along a sample and let’s see if I can help – at no cost and with no strings attached.