It is easier then it has ever been to measure your work’s readability. Various metrics are built right into Microsoft Word and you can use them to measure the ease of reading. One of the most popular early measurements was the Flesch Reading Ease Formula, developed in The Art of Plain Talk by Dr. Rudolph Flesch. Even though he developed this formula in the early 1940’s, the simple 1 – 100 reading scale is still widely used.
It’s great to know the reading ease score for your writing, but how is it calculated? Once you know the numbers behind formulas like this, you can improve your writing by making it easier to read. A good rule of thumb for non-fiction books is the easier to read, the better.
Below is the 5 Step Formula for calculating the FRES (Flesch Reading Ease Score) of your work.
Step #1: Count the Words
Step #2: Count the Syllables
Step #3: Count the Sentences
Step #4: Determine the average number of syllables per word (Divide total syllables by number of words)
Step #5: Figure the average number of words per sentence (Divide the number of words by the number of sentences)
Use the numbers from Step #4 and Step #5 in the formula below:
206.835 – (1.015 x ASL) – (84.6 x ASW)
ASL = average sentence length (the 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)
To improve your readability score, use shorter words and shorter sentences. This is not all you need to use to improve your writing, but knowing how to make your work more readable is a great tool for every author to have.
For more information on using the Flesch Reading Ease Formula in Microsoft Word, click here.