Writing for Your Audience - Readability Tests

Document created by CLoya-esristaff Employee on Jul 3, 2018Last modified by lfountain-esristaff on Dec 23, 2019
Version 3Show Document
  • View in full screen mode

What is Readability?

Readability is the grade level, ease of reading, and sentence to word-count of your content. There are two tests that are designed to weigh the word-length and sentence length of content to determine where it falls on a scale of ease and grade-level for the average reader. The average reading level for general or non-academic content is at a 5-6th-grade reading level. The local newspapers write for an audience with a reading level of 8th grade. And academia typically writes for a reading level of 10-12th-grade.


The Flesch-Kincaid Readability Test is a readability test designed to determine the average word length, sentence length, syllable count for each word, and the grade level of your content. It is a time-consuming math equation. The results determine the following:


ScoreSchool LevelNotes
100 - 905th gradeVery easy to read and understand by the average 11-year 5th-grade student. Think along the lines of the Secret Garden, Island of the Blue Dolphins. 
90 - 806th gradeEasy to read. Conversational English. Mostly one to two-syllable words.
80 - 707th gradeFairly easy to read. Edgar Allen Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Washington Irving, all have stories at a 7th-grade reading level.
70 - 608th & 9th gradePlain English. The average reading level for middle school-age students.
60 - 50 10th - 12th gradeFairly difficult, larger words with more syllables.
50 -30 CollegeDifficult to read. College text. 
30 - 0College GraduateVery difficult to read and often more for a professor, doctorate, research, with technical jargon or terminology and vocabulary that exceeds the average college student.


A simple way to do the math

If you are using Microsoft Word to write draft your content, there is a simple technique that you can turn on to find the readability of your content every time you hit the spellcheck.


While in your Microsoft Word document, click on your File tab and go to options. A Word Options pop-up window will open. Click on Proofing and then select the Show readability statistics check-box below the header "When correcting spelling and grammar in Word." Click the "Ok" button, and your readability is now turned on. Every time you use spellcheck, it will do a full word count and readability scoring. This can also be turned on in Outlook and PowerPoint.


Readability option in Word.Readability statistics

5 people found this helpful