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Writing for the Web: How to Use a Readability Score

A readability score is a number telling how easy it will be for someone to read a particular text. The most frequent scoring is the Flesch reading ease test, which measures the readability of a text. It uses two variables to determine the readability score:

    • the average length of your sentences (measured by the number of words)
    • the average number of syllables per word

It provides a score between 0 and 100. A score of 100 means your copy is easy to read. A score of 0 means your text is challenging to read. You can see the exact interpretation of all the scores in the table below.

Many tools help you assess your readability and change your scoring. For example, using the Flesch reading-ease test, Grammarly’s readability score is based on the average length of sentences and the number of words in your document.

The higher the number, the easier it is to read the text.

• 100-90 = 5th grade (very easy to read and easily understood by an average 11-year-old)
• 90-80 = 6th grade (easy to read, uses conversational language for consumers)
• 80-70 = 7th grade (fairly easy to read)
•70-60 = 8th and 9th grade (plain language, easily understood by 14-15-year-olds)
• 60-50 = 10th-12th grade (fairly difficult to read)
• 50-30 = College (difficult to read)
• 30-10 = College graduate (very difficult to read and best understood by university graduates)
• 10-0 = Professional (extremely difficult to read and best understood by university graduates)

How and Why Should I Raise the Score?

When writing for the web, use conversational language that is easy to read and understand. Shorten lengthy sentences and replace complex words to make your text more readable. Keeping your readability score high (meaning your text reading level is as young as possible) ensures more people can connect with your information. 

You are less likely to be found online if you use uncommon words in your text. Use simple and familiar keywords. 

Our recommendation is to write your content as you usually would, and when you go back to edit, consider your target audience more carefully. Focus on the age and experience level of that audience. Additionally, look for idioms and other words that may need to be clarified to someone who is less proficient in English or uses a translation program to read your content. Finally, review your text for keywords and make sure you’re using familiar terms so you can be found online. 

Try: define your audience and locate the score above. Then, aim to write a text that meets the readability score of your audience within 10 points.

Example

1. We are writing this blog for professionals who work in business, corporation, and education sectors.

2. Our audience most likely has an average education level of a college graduate, which gives me a score recommendation of 50-30.

3. We want to make the content easily skimmable and readable, which means I want a higher reading score. I’ll aim for between 70-60 (plain English, easily understood by 14-15-year-olds).

4. The first draft of this blog was originally at a Flesch Reading Score of 56.4. After reworking longer sentences and removing some technical words and phrases, this blog is now a 68.7 (scored by Yoast SEO). 

*If you are using Grammarly for scoring, it takes into account more than just the Flesch Reading Score. We scored an 82 inside of grammarly but you can see where it shows only the readability score of a 67 inside of the overall score.

grammarly flesch readability score

Here are some tools that can help you assess, change your score or write differently:

• Grammarly (free & paid tool versions) – free writing app to make their online writing clear and effective
• Hemingway App (free tool) – makes your writing bold and clear. The app highlights lengthy, complex sentences and common errors.
Yoast SEO (free and paid versions of tool) – helps you with your website’s search engine optimization. Can be utilized as a learning tool if not installed on website.

Published on: January 10, 2023

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