Pukey The Pumpkin, by JD Hancock (jdhancock.com), is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

Are You Getting Readability Wrong?


Every once in awhile I encounter another well-meaning professional suggesting that we all need to write copy that scores well on the Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease score. And every time, I want to puke.

I'm not against readability. It's essential (duh!).
What I *am* against is the reckless idea that because "most" Americans read at a certain level, or like to read at a certain level, you should write for that level.

What we know about readability is that people prefer plain language and clear explanations. Striving for that makes sense. However, for some topics (say, technical or medical) and some audiences (like highly educated or experienced people) jargon and complicated terms are required and expected. Yet those very things are what tanks your writing in these readability tools.

What we all need to do is worry a lot less about what an algorithm says about the readability of our content and focus a whole lot more on producing clear and concise content that's appropriate for our audience (that includes both their ability and their expectations).

Here are some tips on how to do both: