Tuesday 21 September 2010

How to make your blog more readable

I was browsing Linkedin and reading recent blogs. Suddenly, I came across one that was almost unintelligible! I had great difficulty in understanding it. Jargon, long and twisted sentences hid the real message. I actually stopped reading before reaching the end of the article.

This prompted me to ask; how readable are MY articles?

Well, you can probably read them quite well – if you are a university graduate! The readability index of my previous blog articles is in the 30s. This is on a scale of 0 to 100, where higher scores are more easily understood. In fact, I was more Harvard Law Review (score 30) than Readers Digest (scores 65% plus)!

A review of other blogs showed a wide variation in readability. As might be expected from a blogging expert, Anne Hawkins’ blog scored well. So did HBN’s Ruth Ekblom.

However, few had achieved the dizzying quality of today’s successful book writers. J K Rowling, John Grisham, and my favourite Terry Pratchett achieve a readability score of 60 plus. People with a grade 7 reading level (equivalent to 11 – 13 year olds) can easily read their gripping books.

So how can we improve our blog writing? By:

  • Writing in shorter, clearer sentences
  • Avoiding jargon
  • Striving for high readability at a simpler reading level

It requires effort, but there is a tool to help you; the online readability checker at http://www.read-able.com. You copy and paste your blog text into it and the checker then calculates the:

  • Flesch-Kincaid Readability Score (change your text to achieve scores above 60)
  • Flesch–Kincaid Grade Level (aim for a reading level of 7 or 8)

Microsoft Word also includes a readability check. It is hidden in the proofing set-up of the spelling and grammar tools and you may have to turn it on.

Readability statistics are not the complete answer. Ensure you are getting your message across!
So have a go. Make your next blog a readable one!

(This article has a readability score of 63 to 73. It is understandable at grade 7!)

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