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Rated: E · Article · Writing · #1011317
The Flesch-Kincaid Index, etc., and what does it all mean? Humorous, maybe, but serious
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Weekly Editor's Letter:

Have you ever heard of the Flesch-Kincaid Index?

The Flesch-Kincaid Index is a tool used to measure the readability of what is written.

What is readability?

Readability is the measure of how easy it is to read and comprehend the written word. Newspapers, magaizines, books, and websites contain written words, and all of their content can be measured to determine their readability.

The Flesch-Kincaid Index measures readability mathematically, as do all the other readability tests and indexes.

Why is it I was not allowed to write my way out of any Math class I was required to take, yet there are mathematical forumlas to measure the readability of my writing?

Readability Formulas

According to the Writer's Encyclopedia furnished by WRITERSMARKET.com, readability formulas indicate the difficulty of written material according to the skill (by school grade level) needed to understand it. They are necessary because of the inconsistency between the percentage of people who have completed a given grade level and the reading ability of those same persons. For example, even though 75 percent of adults in the U.S. have graduated from high school, not all of them can read at twelfth-grade level. (It is estimated, in fact, that more than half cannot.) Further, a reader is apt to misunderstand—or even ignore—material that is too difficult. Popular magazines must maintain fairly low readability levels because their business depends on sales—which in turn depend on readability.

One readability standard, the Flesch formula, determines a passage's level of difficulty by the number of syllables per one hundred words and the average number of words per sentence. The Dale-Chall formula, which also considers the average number of words per sentence, incorporates a list of three thousand familiar words into the calculations. The percentage of words that do not appear on the list determines word familiarity. Factors used in the Farr-Jenkins-Paterson formula are the number, per one hundred words, of one-syllable words, and the average number of words per sentence. The Danielson-Bryon formula determines readability by counting spaces between words as well as characters per sentence.

The Cloze test is a standard that involves a reader in the actual testing process. For the test, every fifth word of a passage is deleted, and the reader is instructed to fill in the blanks left by those words. The writing is judged readable to the extent that the substituted words are accurate.

The Fog Index is another formula that uses word length and sentence length as variables, as described by its creator, Robert Gunning, in his book, The Technique of Clear Writing.

Gunning advised writers: "Use the (formula) as a guide after you have written, but not as a pattern before you write. Good writing must be alive; don't kill it with system."

The Flesch-Kincaid tool is built into modern software like Microsoft Word, so it's easy to measure the readability of anything.

How to access Readability Statistics in Microsoft Word

Readability statistics are used in the Microsoft Word program from Microsoft Corporation. For activating the readability statistics in Microsoft Word:

Go to Tools section of Word
Select Options
Select Spelling & Grammar tab
Select "Show readability statistics". You are ready to check the readability statistics of your document.

Run Spelling & Grammar from the tools menu.

At the conclusion of the spelling and grammar check, a message box will appear, detailing several text statistics, including both the Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease and Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level.

Readability of this Editorial based on Flesch-Kincaid

The Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease and Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level for this Editorial to this point is:
Grade Level – 12.0
Reading Ease – 38.4

According to my research, this Editorial's scores are not good. *Cry*. Unfortunately if I want to market this Editorial to the general public it would be necessary to make the content much easier to read, but I know ya'll are all smart. *Bigsmile*

HIPPA: Legal Document Incomprehensible

Readability Anaylsis of HIPPA:

In order to receive medical care these days, we are all required to sign a HIPPA agreement. Click the above link to read what the Flesch-Kincaid Index says about HIPPA.

Whose Reading Your Writing?

The larger the reading audience the less we are likely to know about the audiences reading ability.

Comic books are written at the fourth-grade level, or lower. Most popular fiction is written at the sixth-grade level. Reader's Digest and T.V. Guide are written at the ninth-grade level, the New Yorker the tenth-grade level, and newspapers at the 12th grade level. USA Today is written at the tenth-grade level.

The target reading level for large, public audiences is the seventh grade.

The only real bright spot concerning readability tests and scores is none of it seems to apply to poetry.

The Critic

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Just For Fun

Amazon Offers Readability Scores



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"Journalists today are well educated and have broad interests, and their natural inclination, if not checked by self-monitoring and good editing, is to write for each other."
Phil Myer

"Einstein said that if quantum mechanics is right, then the world is crazy. Well, Einstein was right. The world is crazy."

Daniel Greenberger

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Readability Tool

Check your readability score at the following link:

(Since everyone does not use Microsoft Word...)


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Readability Commecial Software:
(For informational purpose only - not a product endorsement)

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Issue 194
Edited by: The Critic
Rate this newsletter here:
 Reading vs. Writing vs. Reading  (E)
The Flesch-Kincaid Index, etc., and what does it all mean? Humorous, maybe, but serious
#1011317 by The Critic

Next weeks Editor: October 17, Issue #195 Reannon
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