Sometimes when you write an article, review or letter you need to take into consideration the age and education of the reader. Your choice of words and sentence structure should reflect the audience. Your five year old nephew will thank you for it, as will the professors on your college. But how do you know if your writing is appropriate for the audience?
Like most other things in life, someone tried to answer that question with a formula, or algorithm. Microsoft Word offers readability statistics, but only if the feature is activated by the user. It is turned off by default.
Here is a quick guide on how to enable the readability statistics in Microsoft Word. Please note that I'm using Microsoft Word 2010, and that the setting may be at a different location in previous versions of Word.
Click on File and then Options. This should open the Options window where the majority of configuration changes can be made. Locate Proofing on the left side and click on it.
Place a checkmark into the box next to show readability statistics and click the OK button afterwards. This enables the feature. You won't realize directly that it has been activated. That's because it is linked to proof reading, which was already indicated by its location under proofing in the options.
The easiest way to bring up the readability statistics is to press F7 to run the spell checker on the open document, or by clicking on the Review tab and then on the Spelling and Grammar button.
The readability statistics display counts of words, characters, paragraphs and sentences, information about sentence, word and character averages and readability statistics
The Readability section displays the percentage of passive sentences, the Flesch Reading Ease and the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level.
Flesch Reading Ease scores can be interpreted in the following way:
The Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level transforms the Flesch Reading Ease score to a United States grade. A grade level of 9.9 as shown on the screenshot above is expected to be understandable by average 9th to 10th grade students.
If you are a Word user, are you using the Readability Statistics?
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.