Jan 5, 2007

Content Readability

When you create content for training, how do you know if you’re writing to a reading level that will suit your audience? There are several studies that recommend developing content for a fifth grade reading level. But how do you know if you’ve done that?

There are two readability tests that can be used and both can be analyzed quickly in Microsoft Word.

The Flesch Reading Ease Score (FRES) is a formula (see it here) that returns scores which indicates how easy material is to read. Higher scores indicate material is easier to read where lower numbers mark harder-to-read passages.

As a rule of thumb, scores of 90–100 are considered easily understandable by an average 5th grader. 8th and 9th grade students could easily understand passages with a score of 60–70, and passages with results of 0–30 are best understood by college graduates.

The second is the Flesch–Kincaid Grade Level Formula translates the 0–100 score to a U.S. grade level, making it easier for teachers, parents, librarians, and others to judge the readability level of various books and texts. It can also mean the number of years of education required to understand this text, relevant when the formula results in a number greater than 12.

So, how do you find out the readability level in Word?

  • In the Tools menu, click on Options.
  • Click on the tab Spelling & Grammar
  • Click on the checkbox Show Readability Statistics
Now when you do a spell/grammar check, on completion a popup windo will appear that will give statistics on the readability of your document. The last section of the popup has both the Flesch Reading Ease and the Flesch–Kincaid Grade Level results.