A Readability Test

Lorelle points to an interesting website called Juicy Studio, which has a facility for testing the readability of an electronic document. The main outputs of the test are three scores:

  1. Gunning-Fog Index: Years of schooling needed to understand the text
  2. Flesch Reading Ease: Ease of readability on a scale of 0-100
  3. Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level: The minimum grade-level of a student who can understand the text

Here are the results for Mirkwood:

Gunning Fog Index 11.26
Flesch Reading Ease 61.34
Flesch-Kincaid Grade 7.90

For comparison on the Gunning-Fog score, the Reader’s Digest scores 8, The Wall-Street Journal scores about 11, academic papers score 15-20. Juicy Studio also mentions that writers are encouraged to write material with a Flesch Reading Ease Score of 60-70.

As the testing page mentions, these tests are only rough guides which reward short sentences and short words. The assumption, of course, is that there is a correlation between the usage of short sentences and the resulting readability. This is quite reasonable as a first approximation. Flesch-Kincaid is used by the U.S. Government to test the readability of its forms. One has to wonder whether this has done them any good. If you have read any publication or tax treaty from the IRS, you will know.

Test out your blog for readability. Who knows, you might be in for a surprise!

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