How to Gain Clarity and Readability: Write for Flesch Reading Ease

How to Gain Clarity and Readability: Write for Flesch Reading Ease

READ THIS! (Yeah, right…lol)

It’s a common problem: You want folks to read your newsletters, white papers, your website pages, social media and blog posts. But you don’t have time yourself to read others’ material. Sound familiar?

So how do you get folks to read what you have to say? Easy. Improve your writing’s readability.

I’ll make this quick so you get my point. 😊

  1. Become a better writer. (I see your eye roll!) Start with the Hemingway Editor. It will teach you what can be improved.
  2. Re-write your drafts following the Flesch Reading Ease formula.

About Flesch Reading Ease

Developed by Rudolph Flesch in 1948, this metric quantifies the ease with which a piece of text can be understood by the average reader. Understanding the key elements of writing for Flesch Reading Ease can significantly enhance the clarity and accessibility of your writing.

Sentence Length

The length of your sentences plays a pivotal role in determining readability. Shorter sentences are easier to comprehend and reduce the chances of confusion or ambiguity. Aim for concise and straightforward sentences. However, you don’t need to overdo it by making every sentence too short, as it can lead to a choppy flow. Strive for a balance, varying sentence lengths to maintain a natural rhythm while keeping them within a reasonable limit.

Word Choice

Using plain and simple language is a fundamental principle of writing for Flesch Reading Ease. Opt for common words that are easy to understand rather than using complex jargon or technical terms. Avoid unnecessary adjectives and adverbs that might clutter your text and confuse the reader. Keep in mind that clarity should always be a priority over demonstrating vocabulary prowess.

Active Voice

Writing in the active voice makes your sentences more direct and engaging for the reader. Passive voice constructions can create confusion and, importantly, distance the reader from the subject of the sentence. Active voice not only boosts readability but also adds dynamism to your writing.

Paragraph Structure

Organize your content into well-structured paragraphs, each focused on a specific idea or topic. Avoid long walls of text, as they can be daunting and discourage readers from engaging with your content. Aim for a balance between content density and white space, using subheadings, bullet points, and lists to break up the text and enhance readability.

Transition Words

Transition words and phrases act as signposts, guiding the reader through your content smoothly. Words like “therefore,” “however,” “in addition,” and “meanwhile” establish logical connections and bridges between ideas, making it easier for readers to follow your thought process. Thoughtful use of transition words can help maintain coherence and flow within your writing.

Reading Level

Consider your target audience and adjust the reading level accordingly. While some topics may require a more advanced vocabulary, always strive to simplify complex ideas through clear explanations. If your content is intended for a broader audience, aim for a reading level that is accessible to the average reader.

Visual Elements

Integrate visual elements like images, infographics, and charts to complement your text. Visual aids not only make your content more engaging but also help in conveying complex information more effectively. A well-structured visual presentation can enhance the overall readability of your writing.

Proofreading and Editing

Lastly, don’t forget the importance of proofreading and editing. Even the best-written content can be marred by grammar and spelling errors. Take the time to review your work, or consider having someone else proofread it for you. Editing ensures that your writing is polished and up to the mark in terms of readability.

Summary of Flesch Reading Ease

Most of us don’t read every word in a sentence. Many of us scan the bulk of our business or academic reading, searching for its key information. Flesch Reading Ease (or Flesch-Kincaid, as it’s also known) takes a number of writing elements into consideration to evaluate readability:

  • Sentence length
  • Word choices
  • Active voice (vs. passive)
  • Paragraph structure
  • Transition words
  • Reading level (grade level vs. scientific)

Quick Tips for Better Readability of Your Website

Conveniently, I install a Flesch Reading Ease tool on all the websites I build for clients. It provides feedback on every page’s written content. An example:

Flesch Readability Scoring
Flesch Reading Ease Feedback

The above is an unnamed client's Flesch Reading Ease scoring result report for one website page. Most results show all three evaluation areas: Needs improvement, optional suggestions and good results. Ask me if you'd like to review your site's scores and how to make improvements.

  1. Use subheads – Most of us scan writing to find what’s pertinent. Subheads make it much easier.
  2. Use transition words – Thus, your thoughts will appear more logically, connecting from one topic to the next.
  3. Use active voice – Passive voice adds unnecessary words and is more difficult to comprehend. Keep it simple.
  4. Use short sentences – Save the compound sentences, with lots of dependent clauses, for niche audiences. Not everyone appreciates Eugene O’Neill’s lengthy monologues.
  5. Use short paragraph structure – The visual of many lines of text together intimidates many readers who choose to skip it. Divide it into multiple short paragraphs and you may get more readers.

The Sum Up

Writing for Flesch Reading Ease is all about creating content that is clear, concise, and accessible to the reader. By paying attention to sentence length, word choice, active voice, paragraph structure, transition words, reading level, and incorporating visual elements, you can significantly enhance the readability of your writing. Embrace these key elements, and your content will not only be more enjoyable to read but will also effectively convey your message to a wider audience. Happy writing!

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