Re: Readability tools? Just say no!

Subject: Re: Readability tools? Just say no!
From: "Campbell, Art" <artc -at- NORTHC -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 24 Mar 1999 12:00:26 -0500

Thanks for your thoughts, Geoffery, but my firm is in business to make
money. If my doc has to score low on a Flesch scale in order to help the
business, it will. ;-) Reading level analysis, no matter how
theoretically flawed it may be, is a criteria for acceptance of
documentation by large numbers of OEM companies; a number have this
written into their quality/ISO specs. If you write to that audience,
you meet the standards.

Also, if FrameMaker had the data-generation tools built in, as Word does,
I wouldn't have asked for assistance finding tools that worked in that
program's native format. The idea is to avoid conversion, if at all


> -----Original Message-----
> From: Geoffrey Hart [mailto:Geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca]
> Sent: Wednesday, March 24, 1999 11:28 AM
> To: TECHWR-L -at- LISTSERV -dot- OKSTATE -dot- EDU
> Cc: artc -at- NORTHC -dot- COM
> Subject: Readability tools? Just say no!
> Art Campbell wondered <<Does anyone have a reading level
> analysis program that will work on native FM format files? Or
> any other exportable format? .RTF, txt, whatever? I'm
> looking at MicroPower & Light's Readability Plus, but
> haven't played with it yet.>>
> Whatever tool you pick, try this trick to test whether it's any
> use: take a simple sentence and arrange the words in random
> order (better still, arrange them maliciously so the sentence
> makes absolutely no sense, or even says the opposite of what
> you intended to say). If the software provides a comparable
> readability index for both versions of the sentence, demand
> your money back. Good luck finding something that passes
> this test.
> If you absolutely need a measure of readability based solely
> on word counts, word lengths, etc., you can almost always
> use the software's built-in tools. For example, MSWord gives
> you a total word count, plus the number of paragraphs, lines,
> and characters. You can generate any index you want using
> these numbers... though in my opinion, you're still wasting
> your time. There's almost no correlation between the main
> readability indexes and actual readability, and there won't be
> for a good long time to come until someone develops a tool
> that can parse the content of text in the specific context of a
> well-defined audience.
> --Geoff Hart @8^{)} Pointe-Claire, Quebec
> geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca
> "Patience comes to those who wait."--Anon.

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