Saturday, February 25, 2023

Readability Scores

Word’s Readability Statistics for the short story
Recently while working on a short story, I discovered Word’s Readability Statistics function [Word / Tools / Spelling and Grammar / Editor / Insights / Document stats] which creates a statistics chart that includes readability scores that needed reference charts to understand them. (Suggestion: Ignore the Word chart’s “Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level” – it doesn’t correlate with U.S. school grade.)

I researched readability scores online, and it’s interesting. The higher the ‘Flesch Reading Ease’ score, the easier to read. (See the Flesch-Kincaid Calculator chart.)

Flesch-Kincaid Calculator output for the short story
But the deeper into the rabbit hole I dug, the more inconsistent the information and scores became. 

One website ( offered results from seven different readability testing procedures. Results varied widely.

The readability analysis that resonated with me was the Good Calculators website ‘Flesch-Kincaid Calculator’. A portion of the result chart is pictured.

The reading ease score can be increased – for easier reading – by shortening sentences and paragraphs, using active voice, and using shorter, simpler words.

I’ve often heard the writing advice to not use a fancy word when a simpler one will suffice, I mean, do. I don’t agree with that. To me, that seems equivalent – oops! four syllables – to ‘dumbing down’ the writing. Why not challenge the reader?