Most people are familiar with Word’s Spelling & Grammar check functionality, Word’s Readability check is a great extension. Word can check the complexity of your writing, and gives you an idea of whether your writing will be understood by your target audience.
We’ll show you how to see Word’s Readability Statistics, what they mean and how to display them without first fixing every little spelling mistake.
You need to write differently, for example, for a fifth grader or someone with low literacy than you would for someone pursuing a postgraduate degree. The readability checker helps ensure you are hitting the mark for your intended audience.
Turn on Readability Statistics
To enable the readability checker, go to File | Options | Proofing and move down to “When correcting spelling and grammar in Word”. Then tick “Show readability statistics”.
To see your readability statistics, you will need to run the spell checker; Review | Proofing | Check Documents .
Word only shows the readability stats after running a spell check. After you have changed or ignored all the items brought up by the spell checker, an alert will a appear, saying “Spelling and grammar check is complete”. Click OK, and Readability Statistics will appear.
As well as whole lot of interesting totals there are some averages which give a very rough idea of document complexity.
- Sentences per Paragraph
- Words per Sentence
- Characters per Word
Fleisch Reading Ease and Fleisch-Kincaid Grade Levels
Two better ways to rate document complexity are Fleisch Reading Ease and Fleisch-Kincaid Grade Levels But what do they mean?
Fleisch and Kincaid developed a couple of mathematical formulas to work this out, but simply explained:
Reading Ease, the lower the score, the more difficult the text is to read, ranging from 90-100 for a fifth grader, down to 0-30 for a college graduate. A higher ease number is better.
Here’s a quick cheat sheet for the Reading Ease score:
100-90 5th grade
90-80 6th grade
80-70 7th grade
70-60 8th & 9th grade
60-50 10th to 12th grade
30-0 College graduate
Grade Level is even easier to understand, as it is simply expressed as a grade level in the US school system .A lower level is better. So the text that the above statistics came from would be understandable to an average tenth grader.
Can I check readability without running the spell checker?
Not directly. Word will only display readability statistics after running through the spell checker. You have to fix all spelling flags or mark them ‘Ignore’.
If you really want to be able to do this though, there is a workaround using a macro. Jay Alexander wrote a simple little function to display the readability stats without all the spell checks.
Dim rs As ReadabilityStatistic
Dim msg As String
For Each rs In .ReadabilityStatistics
msg = msg & rs.Name & vbTab & rs.Value & vbCr
msg = Left(msg, Len(msg) - 1)
MsgBox msg, , "Readability Statistics"