What’s Your Readability?
Do you find yourself preparing MS Word documents for a specific audience?
Ever worry that it’s just too complicated? Maybe it’s just written in a way that’s above the target audience’s abilities? Maybe it’s below their abilities?
In the course of my job as a teacher I’ve prepared hundreds of documents (project instructions, memos, letters… you get the idea) and I’ve always got to keep in mind the abilities of my audience.
Wouldn’t it be nice if Word could give us some help in this department?
You bet—and as I’m sure you’ve predicted by now—it can!
Word has the ability to give you some statistics about your document after completing a spell check. It can report things like readability scores, word and character counts, average sentences per paragraph, average words per sentence as well as a few other things.
In the Office Assistant’s words…
“When Word finishes checking spelling and grammar, it can display information about the reading level of the document, including (the following) readability scores. Each readability score bases its rating on the average number of syllables per word and words per sentence.”
Now, as to those readability scores—Word displays a score for Flesch Reading Ease and a score for Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level.
I can hear you already… “Just what does all that mean?”
Here are a couple of good answers that the Office Assistant had to give when I put the question to him…
The Flesch Reading Ease score “rates text on a 100-point scale; the higher the score, the easier it is to understand the document. For most standard documents, aim for a score of approximately 60 to 70.”
The Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level score “rates text on a U.S. grade-school level. For example, a score of 8.0 means that an eighth grader can understand the document. For most standard documents, aim for a score of approximately 7.0 to 8.0.”