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What are Readability Statistics?

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FREE RFP Letters ToolkitAlso known as: readability, readability scores, readability assess grade level, reading assessment, readability assessment, readability level, readability index, readability test, readability levels, readability formula, readability tests, readability statistics, Flesch-Kincaid passive sentences, readability levels assessment, readability formulas, readability rating, readability software, or grade level readability scores.

What readability statistics exactly are?

Readability statistics

Readability statistics are indicators, under the form of scores, that measure how easily an adult can read and understand a text. Readability statistics are therefore a good predictor of the level of difficulty of particularly technical documents. They present different readability scores that are computed using readability formulas. The most commonly used readability statistics formulas are:

Readability scores

Readability scores assess the reading level of a document. Each readability score bases its rating on the average number of syllables per word and the average number of words per sentence. For better accuracy, the computation requires a sample of at least 200 words.

Passive Sentences Formula

Also known as: passive sentences readability statistics, passive sentences readability score, passive sentences readability rating, passive sentences rating, or passive sentences ratio.

The Passive Sentences readability statistics formula provides the ratio of passive sentences over active sentences. It is therefore indicated as a percentage of passive sentences found in a text.

You may be interested in learning how to display, in a Microsoft Word document, the Microsoft's version of Passive Sentences score and how to create your own Passive Sentences macro in MS Word.

How to find out if a sentence is passive?

A sentence is passive whenever you encounter the 3 following requirements:

  1. a form of the passive auxiliary BE (be/been/is/are/was/were),
  2. followed by a verb,
  3. and then a past form (verb + ed or an irregular past form).

Does it mean you need to ban passive sentences?

No. But it's a good practice in order to ensure the best readability to avoid using a passive sentence whenever you can replace it with its active version, as far as you don't loose its semantic or a significant part of it. Passive sentences are not always bad for readability. Indeed, sometimes they may be useful, particularly to highlight the passive character of a fact ("He was overwhelmed by stress due to our tight deadlines"), or whenever it doesn't matter who is responsible for the action ("More and more, cars are made from composite and synthetic materials").

Flesch Reading Ease Formula

Also known as: Flesch Reading Ease readability score, Flesch reading age, Flesch readability rating, Flesch rating, Flesch Reading Ease readability statistics, or Flesch Reading Ease score.

The Flesch Reading Ease readability statistics formula rates text on a 100-point scale based on the average number of syllables per word and words per sentence. The higher the score, the easier it is to understand the document. For most standard documents, aim for a readability score of approximately 60 to 70.

The readability formula for the Flesch Reading Ease (FRE) score is:

FRE = 206.835 - (1.015 x ASL) - (84.6 x ASW)

where:

FRE : Flesch Reading Ease readability score
ASL : average sentence length in words or average number of words in sentence (number of words divided by the number of sentences)
ASW : average syllables per word (the number of syllables divided by the number of words)

The Flesch Reading Ease formula is one of the best-known and most popular readability indicators.

You may be interested in learning how to display, in a Microsoft Word document, the Microsoft's version of the Flesch Reading Ease score and how to create your own Flesch Reading Ease macro in MS Word.

Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level Formula

Also known as: Flesch-Kincaid readability score, Flesch-Kincaid readability statistics, Flesch-Kincaid readability rating, Flesch-Kincaid rating, Flesch-Kincaid rating, Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level, Kincaid readability formula, Flesch-Kincaid grade level index, Flesch-Kincaid readability grade level, Kincaid readability score, or Flesch-Kincaid score.

The Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level readability statistics formula rates text on a U.S. grade-school level based on the average number of syllables per word and words per sentence. For example, a score of 8.0 means that an eighth grader would understand the text. Given standard writing averages seventh to eighth grade, aim for a score  between 7.0 and 8.0.

The formula for the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level (FKGL) score is:

FKGL = (0.39 x ASL) + (11.8 x ASW) - 15.59

where:

FKRS : Flesch-Kincaid Readability Score
ASL : average sentence length in words or average number of words in sentence (number of words divided by the number of sentences)
ASW : average number of syllables per word (the number of syllables divided by the number of words)

A corollary is the Flesch-Kincaid Reading Age (FKRA) formula:

FKRA = (0.39 x ASL) + (11.8 x ASW) - 10.59

where:

FKRA : Flesch-Kincaid Reading Age
ASL : average sentence length in words or average number of words in sentence (number of words divided by the number of sentences)
ASW : average number of syllables per word (the number of syllables divided by the number of words)

The Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level formula is one of the best-known and most popular readability indicators. Furthermore, it is used by the US Government Department of Defense as a standard test.

You may be interested in learning how to display, in a Microsoft Word document, the Microsoft's version of the Flesch-Kincaid readability score and how to create your own Flesch-Kincaid macro in MS Word.

Coleman-Liau Grade Level Formula

Also known as: Coleman-Liau readability score, Coleman-Liau readability statistics, Coleman-Liau readability test, Coleman-Liau readability rating, Coleman-Liau rating, Coleman-Liau Grade Level, or Coleman-Liau score.

The Coleman-Liau Grade Level readability statistics formula gauges the understandability of a text. The formula uses word length in characters and sentence length in words to determine grade level.

The formula for the Coleman-Liau Grade Level (CLGL) score is:

CLGL =
(5.89 x (AWL / ASL))
- (30 x ANS / ASL)
- 15.8

where:

CLGL : Coleman-Liau grade level score
AWL : average word length or number of characters per word (number of characters divided by the number of words)
ASL : average sentence length in words or average number of words in sentence (number of words divided by the number of sentences)
ANS : average number of sentences

The Coleman-Liau Grade Level formula is one of the best-known and most popular readability indicators.

Bormuth Grade Level Formula

Also known as: Bormuth readability score, Bormuth readability statistics, Bormuth readability rating, Bormuth rating, Bormuth Grade Level, Bormuth score, DRP readability, DRP readability formula, reading power degrees, Degrees of Reading Power, Degrees of Reading Power (DRP), or DRP.

The Bormuth Grade Level readability statistics formula is also based on a count of characters rather than syllables per word and words per sentence to determine a grade level. The formula was designed to evaluate more academic documents, i.e. school textbooks.

The formula for the Bormuth Grade Level (BGL) score is:

BGL = 0.886593
-  (AWL x 0.03640)
+ (AFW x 0.161911)
-  (ASL x 0.21401)
-  (ASL x 0.000577)
-  (ASL x 0.000005)

where:

BGL : Bormuth grade level score or Bormuth readability score
AWL : average word length or number of characters per word (number of characters divided by the number of words)
AFW : average familiar words per word (the number of words in the original Dale-Chall list of 3,000 simple words divided by the number of words)
ASL : average sentence length in words or average number of words in sentence (number of words divided by the number of sentences)

The Bormuth Grade Level formula is also known as Degrees of Reading Power (DRP) and is one of the best-known and most popular readability indicators.

Common misspellings: bromuth, bomruth, borumth, bormtuh, or bormuht.

How to display readability statistics in Microsoft MS Word?

Readability statistics help you answer the question: how to find out the reading level on a Word document? Indeed, Microsoft Word (MS Word), as a powerful word processor, provides you with a built-in tool

  1. On the Tools menu, click Options, and then click the Spelling & Grammar tab.
  2. Select the Check grammar with spelling check box.
  3. Select the Show readability statistics check box, and then click OK.
  4. Click Spelling and Grammar on the Standard toolbar.
    It is only when Word finishes checking spelling and grammar that it will display information about the reading level of the document. To skip the correction process, press the "Ignore All" button located in the upper right part of the suggestion box, then will appear the Readability Statistics box.

Be aware that MS Word displays readability statistics for text in the last language that was checked, likely in the last processed paragraph.

Readability Statistics Macro

Because Microsoft Word waits for the whole spelling & grammar checking process to complete before displaying readability scores, it may take some time to see the first bit of information about readability statistics. You may shorten this time by either pressing the button "Ignore All" in the upper right part of the suggestion box, or by implementing a readability statistics macro, which computes readability statistics, and does only this job. So, to create your own readability statistics marco in MS Word, do the following:

  1. open the "Tools" menu,
  2. select "Macro", then "Macros",
  3. give a name to your macro like "Display_Readability_Statistics_Macro",
  4. hit the button "Create", and
  5. in the Visual Basic (VB) Editor, merely copy & paste the code below in your new readability statistics macro definition.

Readability Statistics Macro Source Code:

Have you ever wonder how to find out the reading level on a Word document? To do so, build your own macro with the code below.

'''''''''''''''''''''''''
' Implement your own readability statistics
' by using the built-in readability statistics
' object provided by Microsoft Word
' Macro written using Visual Basic (VB) Editor
''''''''''''''''''''''''
Sub Display_Readability_Statistics_Macro()
   ' Start of the readability statistics macro
   Dim strStats As String
  
Dim iStatIndex As Integer  ' Readability statistics parameter value

   strStats = ""

   'There are 10 readability statistics parameters (see below)
   For iStatIndex = 1 To 10
      ' Get the name of the current readability statistics parameter
      strStats = strStats & ActiveDocument.Content.ReadabilityStatistics(iStatIndex)
      ' Add needed tabulations depending on the parameter name length
      If iStatIndex = 1 Then
         strStats = strStats & vbTab & vbTab & vbTab & " : "
     
ElseIf iStatIndex = 8 Or iStatIndex < 5 Then
         strStats = strStats & vbTab & vbTab & " : "
     
Else
         strStats = strStats & vbTab & " : "
     
End If
      ' Add the value of the current readability statistics parameter
      strStats = strStats & ActiveDocument.Content.ReadabilityStatistics(iStatIndex).Value
      strStats = strStats & vbCrLf
  
Next
   ' Display all readability statistics parameters
   MsgBox strStats, vbOKOnly, "Readability Statistics"
   ' End of the readability statistics macro
End Sub  ' Sub Display_Readability_Statistics_Marco()

The readability statistics macro displays the value for each of the ten following readability parameters exposed by Microsoft Word:

  1. Words
  2. Characters
  3. Paragraphs
  4. Sentences
  5. Sentences per paragraph
  6. Words per sentence
  7. Characters per word
  8. Ratio of passive sentences
  9. Flesch Reading Ease score
  10. Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level

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