I don’t normally think of science and writing in bed together, but there are some helpful tools, based on mathematical calculations, that can help improve your writing. One of these tools is the is Flesch Reading Ease Score and there are plenty of ways to work out the Flesch score of your content – either online or within MS Word. The Flesch reading ease score is one way to measure how easy it is to read and understand your content.
How the Flesch reading ease score is calculated
The Flesch Reading Ease Score is based on the average number of syllables per word and words in each sentence. It calculates the average sentence length by dividing the number of words on your page by the number of sentences. It divides the number of syllables by the number of words.
Flesch reading ease score ratings
90-100 – very easy
80-89 – easy
70-79 – fairly easy
60-69 – standard
50-59 – a little difficult
30-49 – difficult
0-29 – very difficult and confusing
Aim for Flesch reading ease scores of between 60 and 70 for your content. This rating is easily understood by 13 – 15-year-olds.Aim for Flesch reading ease scores of between 60 and 70 for your content. #writingtips Click To Tweet
Only use the Flesch reading ease score as a guide. Last year I worked on health content and I tried to keep the Flesch score as low as possible. But as soon as you throw in terms like ‘hospital’, ‘Medicare’, ‘government’ and ‘specialist’, the score went through the roof. However, it will help you consider if there’s a simpler and more concise way of writing something.
How to check your content’s ease of reading rating
You don’t need to manually calculate this score, thank goodness! Me and maths = well let’s just say I’m a humanities graduate. You can check your content’s rating by pasting your content into this Flesch reading ease calculator.
If you’re using Microsoft Word, there’s a little-known setting in the Spelling and Grammar tool that calculates the Flesch reading ease score for you.
To turn this setting on, go to File > Options > Proofing
Then check the box next to ‘Show readability statistics‘.
Weakness of the Flesch reading ease score
The Flesch reading ease score isn’t a substitute for a plain English edit of your content. It can’t detect difficult words that can be easily replaced with simple words.
If you work in a field that uses a lot of technical or bureaucratic language, then there’s a good chance that you may not be aware of how much jargon has slipped into your content. Terms that are familiar to you may not be familiar to your readers. This could make your content difficult to read even if it has a Flesch reading ease score between 60 and 70.
If you have a technical document or are worried about too much jargon in your content, contact me for advice.
Note: This page has a Flesch reading ease score of 70.The Flesch reading ease score isn't a substitute for a plain English edit of your content #writingtips #plainenglish Click To Tweet