This brief, step-by-step tutorial will outline how to check the readability statistics for any document written in Microsoft Word. The readability statistics can be extremely useful when considering the audience. We try to remain as up to date as possible here at QubComm, so this tutorial is for Microsoft Word 2007. Some of the steps below may stray a bit when using a different version of Microsoft Word.
1. After fully composing your document, click “Review” in the toolbar at the top of the page.
2. Click “Spelling and Grammar” in the upper-left corner of the screen.
3. Run through the “Spelling and Grammar” checker to make sure your document has no spelling errors and follows basic grammatical rules.
4. When the ”Spelling and Grammar” checker is complete, the “Readability Statistics” box should open, listing some useful information about your document. (If this box does not open, continue the steps. If the box does open, skip down to the picture.)
5. If the “Readability Statistics” box does not open, click the circular Microsoft logo in the upper-left corner of the screen.
6. Click “Word Options”, which is located at the bottom of the dialog box as a button.
7. In the “Word Options” dialog box, click “Proofing” on the left side of the box.
8. The third heading down titled, “When correcting spelling and grammar in Word” contains a handful of options to check. Check “Show readability statistics”, then press OK!
Example of Readability Statistics from previous blog post.
The “Counts” section shows the writer’s statistics regarding the number of words, characters (letters, punctuation and numbers), paragraphs, and sentences. The “Averages” segment is interesting as well, as it allows the writer to visualize more important information regarding their work, such as the average number of sentences in each paragraph, the average number of words per sentence, and the average number of characters per word.
The section titled, “Readability” shows the most revealing information regarding the document.
This percentage can be extremely useful if a percentage other than 0% appears, the writer may have some editing to do. Generally speaking, passive voice is not the best way to word your thoughts. Here’s the difference: Active voice: I am typing a document. Passive voice: The document is being typed by me.
There are times when passive voice is acceptable, especially in jargon writing, such as certain science experiments and science writing. For most writing, though, use active voice.
Flesch Reading Ease
Wikipedia explains the Flesch Reading Ease nicely here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flesch%E2%80%93Kincaid_readability_test
In other words, the higher the number, the easier the work is to understand. If you are composing a document that needs to be read by only your doctoral program, then your score should be lower, closer to 0. On the other hand, if you are preparing a children’s book for 5th graders, then the score should be around 80. Advanced readers continue to enjoy reading when they are challenged, so use the Flesch Reading Ease to your advantage.
Flesch-Kincaide Grade Level
On many schoolchildren’s books, there are numbers and letters on the back of the book. It may look like this: RL8. This means that the book the child is reading is at a Reading Level 8, or, it is written for students that are reading at an 8th grade level. At QubComm, we use this feature often. We adhere to using plain language in all work we do for major corporations, just as the government, financial institutions, and many other businesses are doing. The reading level must fit the audience. The general population reads comfortably at a sixth grade reading level or a “6″ on the Flesch-Kincaide Grade Level.
Whether typing a rough draft for a school report or writing an important insurance document, the Readability Statistics in Microsoft Word can be insightful and worthwhile when finishing your draft.