Re: Measuring readability

Subject: Re: Measuring readability
From: Chris Wilcox <Clwilcox -at- MICRON -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 2 Apr 1998 12:55:11 -0700

I've been asked to ensure that our user docs are written on a 10th grade
level so that they are understandable to a wide audience. If you've had
do this, how do you measure this?

Any of the versions of Microsoft Word contain grammar checkers that
compile readability information at the end. Our company uses the
Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level, because it seems to be the most consistent
measurement tool.

One thing to be careful of is making assumptions about the "grade level"
when applied to readability. Readability is measured by the number of
words in a sentence, the length of the longest sentence in a paragraph,
and the number of sentences in a paragraph, basically. Newspapers are
generally written at a 6th to 8th grade reading level (our company chose
8th grade as the baseline). Most books that are used in 12th grade
classes are written to an 8th grade level. Most textbooks don't hit a
12th grade readability until the third or fourth years of college text.
Just as an example, Michael's original note is written at a 7th grade
level (according to Flesch-Kincaid).

I've spent a great deal of time wrangling with this issue at our
company. If you have questions, you can e-mail me off list.

Chris Wilcox
MCMS, Inc.
clwilcox -at- micron -dot- com -dot-

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