In a previous post I suggested a simple tool for improving the writing in your organisation. Here’s another one, designed to test the readability of the writing.
The Flesch reading ease test scores your writing based on average words per sentence and syllables per word. The higher the score, the easier the text is to read.
As a guideline, online copy should have a Flesch reading ease score of 60-80.
Reader's Digest magazine scores about 65, in the same bracket as The Sun and Mirror newspapers. Time magazine scores about 52, and the Harvard Law Review has a readability score in the low 30s.
If you’ve got a passage of text you want to test just cut and paste it here. Alternatively you can do it in Microsoft Word. Select 'show readability statistics' under the Spelling and Grammar options.
Writers in my team find this especially useful. We write a lot of copy for online publications in complex, multi-national companies.
Each of these factors is important:
- Online copy is more difficult to read. It had better be simpler.
- Complexity is often exacerbated by imprecise language and over-use of jargon.
- Multi-national readerships have various levels of understanding. Why not make it easier for everyone by making the copy more readable? This is not ‘dumbing down’.