Do people read your messages? Or do they skim them, save them to "read later" or otherwise ignore them? If your writing is hard to read or difficult to understand, people may not get your point, or they may decide to skip reading it entirely.
Clear, simple, easy-to-understand writing is a mark of an excellent communicator. It's worth taking some time and effort to improve. After all, people won't act on information they don't understand.
There's an easy way to check any Microsoft Word document for readability. It uses something called the Flesch-Kincaid readability test. The test has two parts: "reading ease" and "grade level."
The tests compare two things: the number of words per sentence, and the number of syllables per word. Shorter words, fewer syllables, and shorter sentences yield you a higher score.
The reading ease test scores you on a scale of 1 to 100 (100 being the best). The grade level test gives you a rough approximation of the U.S. grade level the text is most appropriate for.
Here's how to test the readability of any Microsoft Word document:
- In the tools menu, go to options
- Click the "Spelling and Grammar" tab
- Select "Show readability statistics"
The next time you do a grammar check, Word will show you how your document scored on readability according to the Flesch-Kincaid scale.
Language isn't math, and any mathematical test of readability is going to be imperfect. Some longer words are easy to understand, and some shorter ones quite difficult. But as a rough indicator of how you're doing, it's not bad.
This document, for example, scored 56.5 on reading ease and 9.0 on grade level. That puts it between Time magazine (52) and Reader's Digest (65).
If you want to try a deeper analysis of your text, check out textalyzer.
Give it a try before you send out your next proposal!
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