Readability Success–And I Can Prove It

graduation capWhile reading The Writer’s Little Helper (yes, the same book from this post–I told you I was actually reading it), I came across several references to readability. The author, James V. Smith, is a big fan of readability. And so am I. But I wasn’t always.

One of the publications that got me back to writing was a newspaper that our church produced. We had a circulation run of about 3,000, and twelve pages to fill with news. And the editor was a writer gal who was very serious about journalism.

At one of our staff meetings, she came in with a handout. “Here are instructions for enabling readability statistics. Use them.” Then she gave us the numbers that she wanted our writing to meet. It was an eye-opening experience for me.

I mean, I was a journalist, too. I thought I knew the ins and outs of writing. But there is a big difference between fine writing–and writing that people will read. So, yeah. I had to make some changes.

That must have been at least ten years ago. But the lessons I learned from using the readability statistics stuck with me. And I can prove it. Just read my post on The Muffin.

I may not always get around to reading my writing books, but if you give me a handout, we’re golden.

8 thoughts on “Readability Success–And I Can Prove It

  1. Thank you Cathy! This was a great post. I popped over to your post on Muffin and it was filled with great information. I am doing (hopefully) the final edit on my memoir, the one I began blogging in November, and I decided to run the stats you talked about in the post!

    For the entire manuscript, this is what it showed:
    Words: 51,075
    Passivity: 5%
    Reading Ease: 76.1
    Grade Level: 6.1
    Words per sentence: 15.1

    Whoo Hoo! Now I have more tools to play around with–I love to tinker.

  2. Lisa, I wonder what kind of scores a typical romance would have? Check your stuff against your favorite author and let me know how you stack up (though I won’t be surprised if your scores don’t knock it out of the park!).

  3. Somewhere, somehow, I heard about the readability thingy on Word and tried it…..years ago. After receiving a score of 6.something grade level…I thought my writing must really stink to get such a low grade score!! Little did I know THAT was what it should be! LOL I’m going to do that again… soon as I get internet…..hopefully soon! The cable/internet guy is here now!! Weeeeee!

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