I do a lot of reading, mostly technical books. A few weeks ago I read a book on technical writing hoping to improve my writing. I learned quite a few things (although I can’t promise that my writing has improved yet), and I’d like to share one of those things with you.
Apparently there is something called Flesch-Kincaid readability index, and Word has that feature built in- it just needs to be activated.
In short Flesch-Kincaid index or test(s) is a way of measuring how difficult a passage in English is to read. It takes into account number of words, sentences and syllables. A high score means the passage is easy to read, and depending on which formula you use the index is either a score that is just a number, or a number that equals school level.
Flesch-Kincaid index is widely used, and often used as a requirement metric for readability in regards to official documents.
627.4145 Readable language in insurance policies.—
(1) Every policy shall be readable as required by this section. For the purposes of this section, the term “policy” means a policy form or endorsement. A policy is deemed readable if:
(a) The text achieves a minimum score of 45 on the Flesch reading ease test as computed in subsection (5) or an equivalent score on any other test comparable in result and approved by the office;
And what is the formula?
var score = 206.835 - 1.015 * (wordCount/sentenceCount) - 84.6 * (syllables/wordCount);
I decided to give this a go, and pulled some text from an older blog post, pasted I in Word and looked at the readability statistics.
Based on the passage below I got the following score: 45.6
And with my hacky code (VERY hacky, counting syllables in particular is very tricky) I was close with 45.68 depending on the rounding.
Here are the metrics compared (Word doesn’t show syllables, but online tools gave everything between 109-117):
My dad just called frustrated after having found out that all his emails were gone (after a certain date if I understand correctly), and a call to the hosting provider (provider of the email server) confirmed that there was no chance to retrieve them. Besides the deleted emails, which was a problem as we own a few nightclubs and these are supplier & staff emails plus more, he had also had double and triple emails coming in- which made no sense.
To enable the feature in Word go to File- Options – Proofing, and enable readability statistics. Then after a grammar check (Review – Spelling and Grammar) a window with the stats will pop up.