Re: Measuring readability (fwd)

Subject: Re: Measuring readability (fwd)
From: "Palmer, Phyllis" <PPalmer -at- SPHERECOM -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 2 Apr 1998 16:36:29 -0600

So, I must ask, is there a standard rule of thumb for different written
projects? I have always gone by the fact that 80% don't want to read
(aren't in depth readers); 10-15% are skimmers (love bullet points and
pictures), and 5-10% are non-readers. Of those 80%, what grade level do
you target for installation instructions? for help files? for user
manuals? for technical training?

Do they vary?
Is this a can of worms?
Thanks for the dialog,

> -----Original Message-----
> From: DURL [SMTP:durl -at- BUFFNET -dot- NET]
> Sent: Thursday, April 02, 1998 4:10 PM
> To: TECHWR-L -at- LISTSERV -dot- OKSTATE -dot- EDU
> Subject: Re: Measuring readability (fwd)
> 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
> 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
> >
> >
> &^~~~
> > Send commands to listserv -at- listserv -dot- okstate -dot- edu (e.g., SIGNOFF
> >
> >
> >
> &^~~~
> Send commands to listserv -at- listserv -dot- okstate -dot- edu (e.g., SIGNOFF

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