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Advantages and Disadvantages of Using Readability Formulas
You can use them! You can abuse them! But you just can't ignore readability formulas.
Let's look at the advantages and disadvantages of using Readability Formulas:
Advantages of Using Readability Formulas
1. By definition, readability formulas measure the grade-level readers must have to read a given text. The results from using readability formulas provide the writer of the text with much needed information to reach his target audience.
2. Readability formulas do not require the (targeted) readers to first go through the text to decide if the text is too hard or too easy to read. By using readability formulas, you can know ahead of time if your readers can understand your material. This saves you time and money.
3. Readability formulas are text-based formulas; many researchers and writers find them easy-to-use.
4. Readability formulas help the text-creators convert the document into plain language if the readability levels are low (which is the case with the reading levels of many American people), or too high (which is normally the case with higher-studies' students, researchers and professionals).
5. Using readability formulas to perfect a document can help readers to increase their retention, comprehension, and speed of reading; this, in turn, smoothens out the work-schedule of your readers.
6. A readable text always attracts a larger reader-base.
Disadvantages of Using Readability Formulas
1. Readability is different from understand-ability. Unfortunately, the readability formulas are not much help if you want to know if the target audience will understand the text.
2. Readability formulas also cannot measure the complexity of a word or phrase to pinpoint where you need to correct it.
3. The admirers of literary geniuses largely see readability formulas as an affront to their work. Most great literary works fail to pass the readability tests, but this doesn't mean that those works are inferior in quality. The critics view readability formulas as over-simplification and a critique of creative writing.
4. Due to many readability formulas, there is an increasing chance of getting wide variations in results of a same text.
5. Readability formulas cannot measure everything that contributes to how readable a book is for a student, any more than a reading test can measure a student's reading behavior.
6. Readability formulas can't measure the context, prior knowledge, interest level, difficulty of concepts, or coherence of text.
7. Readability formulas apply mathematics to literature. This idea, itself, is not favored by language scholars and researchers.