Re: Measuring readability (fwd)

Subject: Re: Measuring readability (fwd)
From: DURL <durl -at- BUFFNET -dot- NET>
Date: Thu, 2 Apr 1998 17:09:39 -0500

Hi Mike,
10th grade is too high; I usually think 8th grade level if the
issue comes up.
The problem with the Flesch and Gunning Fog index is that they're
based on numbers of syllables per sentence, or per paragraph. You can use
them on any word processor since MultiMate...when you run the grammar
check, it'll give you a grade level.
However, that's pretty meaningless. I did some research into this
a while back, and couldn't find teachers who knew *how* their testing
systems that measure grade level do it. I *did* find someone who was
working on developing a grade level using syntax issues (ex:
voice, simple sentences, compound subject or predicate) but at the time,
no one had developed software for it...too complex for the software to do.
The problem is that specialists know a vocabulary that includes
some pretty highly technical words that skew the syllable count. If this
were my task, I'd advocate developing a syntax approach.
Editorial Eye might be a good resource. I referred to their
article, "Writing for Adult Non-Readers." This took into acount that you
were dealing w/ adults who had a grown-up vocabulary, but who don't read
for recreation--just information as necessary. Here's where the syntax
issue comes up, and the "adult non-reader" target might be another
way to define your audience.

Mary Durlak Erie Documentation Inc.
East Aurora, New York (near Buffalo)
durl -at- buffnet -dot- net

On Thu, 2 Apr 1998, Collier,Michael wrote:

> 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 to
> do this, how do you measure this?
> I searched the archives and the web and found references to the Gunning Fog
> Index and the Flesch Readability Index, but I couldn't determine if these
> enforce a grade level standard (plus, if they're dated, and with the decline
> of literacy...)
> Has anyone used an index or standard for this? No mil specs, please. Is
> there any software that does this?
> Thanks,
> Michael Collier
> mailto:mcollier -at- cnalife -dot- com

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