We need to consider readability statistics in our creative writing, business writing, and blogging. In this post, we tell you why readability statistics matter when you write.
The best way to communicate is by learning to write in a reader-friendly style. Running readability statistics is an excellent way to test if you are writing clearly.
We need to learn how to say difficult things in a simple way. If we do this, we are able to reach a larger audience. This is true for creative writing, blogging, and business writing.
Good readability statistics will show if you are writing in plain language. You will find a link to a free online readability calculator at the end of this post.
1. Why Readability Statistics Matter In Creative Writing
“In Fiction Writer’s Brainstormer, James V. Smith explains exactly how the best-selling authors succeed. After studying authors like Stephen King, John Grisham, Danielle Steele, and Elmore Leonard, he came up with this as an ideal writing standard (if you want to sell more books).
Once you are finished writing your novel, run readability statistics on the entire manuscript.
You should have (on average):
- Four characters per word. (Some words will be longer, some shorter, but the average will be four characters.)
- Three sentences per paragraph. (Some paragraphs will be shorter, some longer, but the average will be three sentences.)
- Nine words per sentence. (Some will have more words, some will have fewer words, but the average will be nine words.)
- A passive voice score of less than 5%.
- At least a 70% readability score on the Flesch-Kincaid scale. (80% is better – and preferable.)
- No higher than a 5th grade readability level on the Flesch-Kincaid scale (This does not mean a fifth grader would understand it. It means you are writing in the active voice, using understandable words.)”
From Analysing Agatha – How to become the best-selling novelist of all time.
To Get The Statistics
You can use Microsoft Word:
- PC: Go to File > Options > Proofing > Click “Show readability statistics” box.
- Mac users: Go to Word > Preferences > Spelling and Grammar > Click “Show readability statistics” box.
Run the spell check and you will get the statistics.
Or use an online readability calculator.
2. Why Readability Statistics Matter In Business Writing
Business writers need to watch readability levels. Research shows people respond to shorter emails written with a Grade 3 level on your readability statistics.
- We need as close to a 70% readability score on the Flesch-Kincaid scale as possible. The higher you can get it, the better.
- We achieve these statistics by writing short sentences (nine words – on average) with short, easily understood words.
- We should have no more than three sentences per paragraph.
- We make sure we have lots of white space.
- We need to avoid texting language, and we should use proper spelling, punctuation, and grammar.
- We also have to reduce our use of the passive voice. It should not be greater than 5%.
3. Why Readability Statistics Matter In Blogging
‘If your sentences go on forever, if you use out-dated words, and if you always write in the passive voice, I will leave and never come back. You need to write simply to convey complex ideas. Avoid overused and unnecessary modifiers and qualifiers. I think there is a place for adjectives and adverbs on blogs, but they must add to the piece and not distract me.’ (via)
- Use lists and bullet points.
- Use headings and sub-headings.
- Make sure you have lots of white space.
- Use a simple font.
- Make sure the font size is large enough. (16 or larger is a good guide.)
- You should have an average of four characters per word. (Some words will be longer, some shorter, but the average will be four characters.)
- Include no more than three sentences per paragraph. (Some paragraphs will be shorter, some longer, but the average will be three sentences.)
- You have shave an average of nine words per sentence. (Some will have more words, some will have fewer words, but the average will be nine words.)
- Aim for a passive voice score of less than 5%.
- Aim for at least a 70% readability score on the Flesch-Kincaid scale. (80% is better – and preferable.)
- Aim for no higher than a 5th grade readability level on the Flesch-Kincaid scale (This does not mean a fifth grader would understand it. It means you are writing in the active voice, using understandable words.)
In short, write in a user-friendly web-friendly format.
Tip: Check your readability statistics before you post. If they are too low and your passive content is too high, rewrite your blog so that people will enjoy reading it.
If you want to communicate in business, attract more followers to your blog, or write more readable books, I recommend learning how to use readability tools.
Click on this image to use this free online readability calculator.
Choose: Test By Direct Input and paste your text into the readability tool. Then click calculate readability.
Test your website: If you want to test how readable your entire blog or website is, click here
- If you want to improve your writing skills, buy The Complete Grammar Workbook.
- If you want to learn how to write a book, sign up for our online course.
- If you want to learn how to blog, sign up for our online course.
If you enjoyed this article, read these posts:
- Between Friends: Writing Advice From Hemingway To Fitzgerald
- 25 Email Etiquette Tips For Professional People
- What Is A Style Guide And Why Do I Need One?
- Punctuation For Beginners: What Is Punctuation?
- All About Parts Of Speech
© Amanda Patterson