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What Is Readability?

Updated on
September 2, 2020
Writing Tips
What Is Readability?

When communicating in person, the recipient of your message can interject to ask for clarification or show visual cues that something you’ve said is unclear. In writing, however, ensuring that your reader understands the message you’re communicating is more challenging. 

It’s easy to lose your reader in written communication without other sensory signals to rely on. Checking your writing for readability can help you communicate your message in a way that’s clear and easy to understand.

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What is readability?

Readability determines how easy or difficult it is to understand a piece of text. Different elements of your writing can contribute to readability, like word choice. Choosing a word that’s unfamiliar or complex when a simpler word serves the same purpose can lead to poor readability—for example, writing “perturbed” instead of “worried”.

Other factors go into a text’s readability, like sentence length, sentence structure, and the average syllables per word. These combined factors help assess whether your writing is likely to be understood and avoid writing mistakes that lead to confusion.

Why is readability important?

Aiming for high readability improves the likelihood that the reader will clearly understand your thoughts and ideas. High readability lessens misunderstanding and lets the reader easily process the information that you’ve shared without expending a lot of energy.

In business, particularly in marketing, readability is very important, because it can affect how engaged readers are with your content. For example, if a product description is filled with jargon and complex details that the reader can’t understand quickly, they might lose interest and decide to not make a purchase.

How to check readability

You might be able to run a mental check for readability as you write, but this can lead to a few issues. First, it’s hard to ensure that you’re measuring each piece of text using the same rubric, and secondly, relying on a manual process to check readability requires a lot of extra time and energy.

The easiest way to determine readability is by using a tool that grades the readability of your document or text. A well-known formula, for example, is the Flesch reading ease test. It grades writing readability based on a numeric scale from 0 to 100.

On top of the Grammarly Editor’s other useful functions, it provides you with a readability score based on the Flesch reading ease test. 

How Grammarly helps you master readability 

Since the Grammarly Editor uses a 0 to 100 readability grading scale, the higher your score, the easier it is to read and understand. A lower score means the text is harder to read and is considered more complex as your readability score nears 0.

Effective ways to raise your readability score include simplifying your word choices and shortening your sentences. The Grammarly Editor helps you improve your document’s readability—and improves your writing overall. It offers vocabulary suggestions and ways to tighten your writing, both of which directly affect your readability score.

As you factor this readability score into your writing, you can also review performance reports to see how your writing measures up.

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