Your writing skills may be superb, but what if your readers cant understand your text? Technically, your readers may have problems with your documents readability, but what truly counts is the documents understandability. Most average literate Americans can read a well-crafted document; the question is will readers understand the text in the same manner you want them to? This is where determining the understandability of your documents makes more sense. A scholarly piece of text is of no value
to a sixth grade readability level reader. Similarly, a disoriented piece of writing makes no sense to a reader with a twelfth-grade readability level. Its always advised to determine the reading level of the text for the targeted readership before publishing it.
A handful of popular readability formulas are available to address this issue. These formulas apply a mathematical application to a text to determine its readability grade level. Presently, there are more than 200 readability formulas with varying degrees of accuracy; the more accurate ones include: Dale-Chall, Flesch
Readability Ease, Flesch-Kincaid Readability Formula, Fry Graph, etc. No matter how many readability formulas you use on your documents, the best approach is to write clear, uncluttered, short-sentenced documents, with the use of comprehensible words. One such program called StyleWriter
helps writers and non-writers write in plain English.
MS-Word has an inbuilt feature that can assess the readability of a document and give you the results of Flesch Readability Ease and Flesch-Kincaid Readability Formulas. Here are the instructions to determine the readability of a text in MS-Word: 1.
Write or copy the text on a Word file. 2.
On the Tools menu, click Options, and then select Spelling and Grammar. 3.
Select the Check Grammar with Spelling check box. 4.
Select the Show Readability Statistics check box, and then
click OK. 5.
On the Standard toolbar, click Spelling and Grammar
it will display the information about the reading level of the document
This is the easiest option to determine the readability level of your text. However, if you want to apply different formulas on your text, then youll have to perform manual calculations under the respective readability formulas. Refer to www.ReadabilityFormulas.com
for a complete list of readability formulas and their calculations. Another alternative is to use a readability software program, like Readability
by Micro Power and Light Co., to automatically assess the reading levels of your documents in seconds.
After determining the readability level of the text, you can modify your text to match the desired readability level. Of course, editing and rewriting might be useless if you dont know the grade level of your target audience. Readability formulas will only assess the readability of the text, not of the reader. ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Brian Scott is a contributing writer for Lousy Writer where he helps writers and non-writers how to write better.