Have you ever read a blog post and thought, “What a lot of pseudo-intellectual gobbledygook!” Was it packed with lots of long words and endless sentences?
When writing copy, it’s easy to get carried away and create a whole heap of hard to understand nonsense. If you’re not careful, you’ll end up with difficult to read, overlong sentences and super long words with stacks of syllables.
So here’s a few neat ways to ensure your copy is as ‘readable’ as possible.
Choosing the right reading level for your copy
It’s vital to consider your audience’s literacy level, especially if you’re marketing in Tasmania, where according to a government report (which has since disappeared from the interwebs).
“49% of adult Tasmanians (174,000 people) do not have the basic skills needed to understand and use information from newspapers, magazines, books and brochures.”
Is your copy readable?
Here are a few tests you can conduct to see if your copywriting cuts the mustard:
The Flesch Reading Ease test
The Flesch Reading Ease test rates copy on how appropriate it is to a given age group.
It uses a complex formula to give you percentage scores which translate as:
|90–100%||Easily understood by an average 11-year-old student|
|60–70%||Easily understood by 13- to 15-year-old students|
|0–30%||Best understood by university graduates|
It’s often said that most national newspapers are written to be understood by the average 11 year old, which means you need a Flesch score of 90% plus.
This article scored 55% before I went back and edited it to remove long words and long sentences. Now it’s 66%, so if you’re over 13 hopefully we’re all good.
There are several other readability indexes, each using a different mathematical formula to work out the reading level of your copy, including:
- Gunning-Fog Score
- Coleman-Liau Index
- SMOG (or simple measure of Gobbledygook)
- Automated Readability Index
Free readability calculators
Unless you have a lot of free time, a good calculator and a degree in Mathematics, it’s probably easier to use some of the great free tools online. Here are a few that I use:
Comes with a Flesch score (as well as lots of clever SEO stuff). If you’re using WordPress, it’s as easy as installing the plug-in and clicking the assess button after writing each post.
Gives you your score, but also the relevant US school grade for your article.
Although the results are laid out in a rather ugly format, this tool also provides you with: the number of words, sentences, characters per word, syllables per word and average number of words per sentence.
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