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  Saturday, March 21, 2009 – Permalink –

Readability Evaluation

What grade are you?

Word has a built in tool to determine the level of reading difficulty of a document.

To see the statistics:
  1. On the Tools menu, click Options, and then click the Spelling & Grammar tab
  2. Select the Check grammar with spelling check box
  3. Select the Show readability statistics check box, and then click OK
  4. On the Standard toolbar, click Spelling and Grammar
  5. In 2007, click the Office button in the upper left corner. Click Word Options. Choose Proofing and When correcting spelling and grammar in Word.
When Microsoft Word finishes checking spelling and grammar, it displays information about the reading level of the document.

Each readability score bases its rating on the average number of syllables per word and words per sentence.
Flesch Reading Ease score Rates text on a 100-point scale; the higher the score, the easier it is to understand the document. For most standard documents, aim for a score of approximately 60 to 70. The formula for the Flesch Reading Ease score is: 206.835 - (1.015 x ASL) - (84.6 x ASW) where: ASL = average sentence length (the number of words divided by the number of sentences) ASW = average number of syllables per word (the number of syllables divided by the number of words)
Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level score
Rates text on a U.S. school grade level. For example, a score of 8.0 means that an eighth grader can understand the document. For most documents, aim for a score of approximately 7.0 to 8.0.
The formula for the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level score is:
(.39 x ASL) + (11.8 x ASW) - 15.59
Measuring the reading age of books and other reading matter.
Everything you ever wanted know about
readability tests but were afraid to ask.
 Flesch-Kincaid Readability Test
Frequently Asked Questions About Proofing Grammar

I am working on a law review article dealing with readability. We have found a problem with Microsoft Word's Flesch-Kincaid formula - it does not appear to be accurate. We took a sample text of slightly over 100 words, and ran the check. We then changed the word "report" to statement" (with everything else unchanged) and Word indicated a higher grade level. However, the grade level should not have been affected, since "report" and "statement" are both two-syllable words. It looks like Word is somehow incorporating number of characters in each word into it's Flesch-Kincaid score, which it should not. Any idea what the problem might be?

You're right, Word handles the formula a little differently.
BTW, they say the sample s/b 200+ words for reliability.
See these links:
University of Memphis

[Edited entry from 1/23/2006]

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<Doug Klippert@ 3:36 AM

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