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Readability and Your Website

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An 8th Grade Level Doesn’t Mean „8th Graders Only”
(8th-grade level or lower is recommended, but as low as 5th grade makes it more acceptable.)

Have you read that new book about defying gravity? I’ve heard that it’s complicated but impossible to put down.
Whether you’re writing a paper, a blog, or a product description, it’s important to remember who your audience is. There are many tools that you can use to measure your site’s „readability”. Most experts are in agreement: A readability grade of 5-8 is better for the average reader.

There are different targets to aim for with your readability score or “grade”. If you’re writing for engineers and technical professionals, it might be appropriate to write at a college level. If CEO’s and business executives are your audiences, then high school level is alright. For most other people, 5th to 8th grade is fine! This means that keeping your writing „simple and concise” is better than „flowery and complicated”. Bill Gates has stated that „content is king”, but how you deliver that content is also important.

If your site contains a lot of technical content it may be alright for you to use more complex language. If you’re trying to sell a more common product or service it may be better to keep your language as accessible as possible.

Readability is a measure of several factors including:

  • Number of adverbs
    Word Count
    Number of Syllables in a word
    Complex phrases
    Passive voice
    Difficult to read sentences

There are 5 major formulas used to measure your readability:

  • Flesch reading ease formula
    Coleman Liau index
    Gunning fog index
    SMOG Index
    Automated readability index

Each formula for determining your readability score is different from the others. Some have a predetermined list of “easy” words that they check what you’re writing against. Others count the syllables in your words and determine the complexity from that.

Many services offered throughout the internet that can check your readability score. I have had much luck using the Hemingway Editor. It uses colored highlights to rate sentences and or show difficult or unnecessary words. Other options include Readable.io, a service from Online-Utility.org, and the Readability Analyzer from datayze.com.

These tools can help you be more straightforward in your writing. Being simple and direct makes it easier to get your point across to many people. Writing at a grade school level doesn’t mean it’s actually for grade-schoolers! Go see how much easier it is to read your own writing after you’ve used one of these tools. Knowing what they check for also helps you write in a better way without them. Get your information out to as many people as possible by keeping your writing level on-target!

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