How much should you pay attention to readability scores generated from tools like the Flesch-Kincaid Readability Formula? As a technical professional, you probably should pay careful attention. But remember, while improving the Flesch-Kincaid score is important for accessibility and readability, balancing this with accurately conveying the technical information is essential.
Readability is a quality of your writing. People will be able to understand your sentences easily if your text's readability is high. If the readability is low, people still might understand what you're saying, but reading your text is likely a draining experience, but people may still understand it.
Big words and complex sentences aren’t bad. Using too many of them demands much more concentration from your reader. Big words and complex sentences are also harder if someone's first language is not yours or the reader has some form of visual or hearing impairment.
What’s a readability score?
A readability score is a number that tells you how easy it will be for someone to read a particular text. The higher the number, the easier it is to read your document. In most cases, you should aim for a score of 60 or higher. With a score of 60, your document will be easy to read for most people with at least an eighth-grade education.
Readability Is Not...
A readability score doesn't measure your writing skills, vocabulary size, or the sophistication of your argument. Rather, it tells you how much energy your reader will need to absorb your words.
The Most Widely Used Readability Method
The Flesch-Kincaid Readability Formula is the widely used method for assessing the readability of a text. It calculates a reading level based on the average number of syllables per word and the average number of words per sentence. The resulting score is often reported as a U.S. grade level, indicating the education level required to understand the text.
Tips for Improving Your Readability Score
Technical professionals often face challenges when trying to improve their Flesch-Kincaid scores, especially when dealing with complex topics requiring specialized terminology. Here are a few tips to help improve your readability score:
1. Use Concise Language
Avoid unnecessary jargon and aim to explain complex concepts in straightforward terms.
2. Provide Definitions
When introducing technical terms, consider providing a brief definition to help readers understand their meaning.
3. Use Headings and Subheadings
Organize your content with headings and subheadings.
4. Use Active Voice
Write in the active voice as much as possible. This makes sentences clearer and more direct.
5. Avoid Wordiness
Eliminate unnecessary words or phrases. Streamlining your sentences can make your writing more accessible.
6. Test and Revise
Run your content through readability tools to understand the Flesch-Kincaid score. Revise your text using the tips provided above.
Business Writing with FINESSE
The best way to raise your readability score is to cut down lengthy sentences and replace complex words with simpler ones. Remember, while improving the Flesch-Kincaid score is important for accessibility and readability, balancing this with accurately conveying the technical information in business writing is essential. Finding the right balance between technical accuracy and readability is the key to effective communication for technical professionals.
Grammarly served as a source for this article.
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JD Solomon is the author of Communicating Reliability, Risk & Resiliency to Decision Makers: How to Get Your Boss’s Boss to Understand and Facilitating with FINESSE: A Guide to Successful Business Solutions.