Little Things You Should Know: Readability

Posted by Rita Lorraine

Hi Everybody,

Just stopping by to ask an important writing question (Yes, another one!). Is your work readable? Now, I didn’t say legible, I said readable. Is that wonderful story that you live and breathe, that you think about every moment, that you work on day and night, readable? It had better be! Here’s how to find out.

Know Your Readability Level, Rita Writes History

Know Your Readability Level

Recently, one of my writing listservs held a brief discussion on “readability.” In case you don’t know, “readability” is the degree of reading ease a person experiences when reading a passage or document, based on the style of the writing.

So what does that mean in layman’s terms? It means, I’m asking just how readable your work is, according to your targeted audience. For example, if you’re writing an easy reader for early elementary, does your writing pass the readability test? Are the words you’ve written really for early elementary readers? Can these little ones really read and comprehend what you’ve written, or are you way off base?

Readability is important, especially if you expect to get published one day. Here’s how to rate your writing.

If you’re a Microsoft Word user, Word uses the Flesch Reading Ease statistic inside its program to perform the readability test.

Follow these simple directions to get your readability ratings:
1. Click on Tools
2. Go to Options
3. Make sure Spelling & Grammar is checked.
4. Make sure Show Readability Statistics is checked.

Now, if you have Word 2007, the directions are slightly different.
1. Click on File (the large circle on the left with the icon), scroll to the bottom and click on “Word Options.”
2. Click on “Proofing,” then scroll all the way to the bottom and check “show readability statistics.”
3. Now go back to your story. When you’re done writing, highlight the passage you want to test for readability.
4. Click the “Review” tab in the tool bar, and on the extreme left, you’ll see “Spelling and Grammar.” Click that.
5. Word will automatically begin checking your work. Once it is finished, it will render a Flesch Reading Ease and Flesch Grade Level report, and you’ll know just how readable your work is!

How easy is that???

Now, I’m not sure what programs are out there for people who don’t use Microsoft Word, so I won’t pretend to be an expert on that subject. However, I did find a wonderful tool that can test passages from your website, or even whole web pages, if you like. The Readability Test Tool at Readable (www.read-able.com) allows you to test all or part of your webpage to see how “readable” your work happens to be.

Hope this article has helped you in your on-going quest to become a published writer!

Best wishes and happy writing,

Rita Lorraine

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