Sunday, February 26, 2012

Readability Indices, Google Docs, MS Word, Outlook, and Twitter Stream

A former SCCC student shared page 27 from DA PAM 25-40 Army Publishing: Action Officers Guide (published 11/7/2006) available through the Army Publishing Directorate. This page contains a Readability Grade Level nomograph with the steps to calculate Reading Grade Level.

Readability can also be enabled in Google DocsMicrosoft Word and Outlook. Google Docs and Microsoft Word provide three indicators of the reading level of the document you're creating. They will each calculate for you the Flesch Reading Ease, Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level, and the Automatic Readability Index. In Google Docs you visit the tools menu and select the word count option.
  1. On the Tools menu, click Options.
  2. Click the Spelling tab, and then click Spelling and AutoCorrection.
  3. Click Proofing.
  4. Under When correcting grammar in Outlook, select the Check grammar with spelling check box.
  5. Select the Show readability statistics check box.
  6. After you enable this feature, open a file that you want to check, and check the spelling. When Outlook or Word finishes checking the spelling and grammar, it displays information about the reading level of the document.
  1. Click the Microsoft Office Button, and then click Word Options.
  2. Click Proofing.
  3. Make sure Check grammar with spelling is selected.
  4. Under When correcting grammar in Word, select the Show readability statistics check box.
Through my social media stream EdTech SandyK shared this tweet:

There are many digital tools available to check for the reading grade level but what I like about Peter Krantz's tool is that it continues a discussion from a blog post he published in 2005. The online tool also calculates in languages other than English. The calculator uses the following formulas:

English: Flesch-Kincaid reading ease and grade level.
Spanish: Fernandez Huerta
French: Kandel & Moles
Swedish, Danish: LIX
Douman: Dutch

The Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease - This score indicates how easy a text is to read. A high score implies an easy text. In comparison comics typically score around 90 while legalese can get a score below 10.

The Flesch-Kincaid Grade level indicates the grade a person will have to have reached to be able to understand the text. E.g. a grade level of 7 means that a seventh grader will be able to understand the text.

Peter Krantz's blog post from Septermber 2005: Methods for measuring text readability also contains links for those looking to improve their readability index.

While we have regulatory guidance, writing or Communicative Arts facilitators, digital tools, it boils down to what is old hat to you may be new to someone else. Continue to share your experiences, write publicly and privately because we all know that no one is perfect when it comes to writing and speaking.

As always, comments, recommendations +1s, and reaction check boxes are always appreciated.
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