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How To Choose The Best Readability Formula For Your Document

Mar 10, 2008
Presently, there are more than 200 readability formulas developed by various scholars since the 1940s. Only a handful of these formulas are reliable to determine the reading-level of a sample text. This article will help you to decide which readability formula or formulas to use on your documents. Identify your industry, then select the appropriate readability formula.

EDUCATION

The primary role of the education sector is to distill good education to students at different grade levels. Written text in the form of textbooks, journals, literature and so on, forms the backbone of a good education system. Here are different readability formulas to use on your documents according to the grade level:

1. Dale-Chall: Dale-Chall Readability formula is a general formula suitable for all kinds of texts.

2. Spache: Spache Readability Formula is ideal for texts for up to 3rd grade level students.

3. Powers-Sumner-Kearl: The Powers-Sumner-Kearl readability dormula is ideal for text geared towards primary age children (age 7-10).

4. SMOG: McLaughlin's SMOG Readability Formula is appropriate for text aimed at secondary age (4th grade to college level) readers.

5. Flesch Reading Ease: The Flesch Reading Ease readability formula is a general formula suitable for all kind of texts.

6. Gunning Fog: The Gunning Fog Index readability formula is ideal for education material aimed at businesses, like business magazines and journals.

7. Fry Graph: The Fry Graph readability formula is a general formula suitable for all kind of texts.

8. Coleman-Liau: The Coleman-Liau readability formula is ideal for text aimed at 4th grade to college level readers.

9. McAlpine EFLAW: The McAlpine EFLAW readability formula is ideal in determining the ease of reading English text for ESL/EFL (English as a Second/Foreign Language) readers.

HEALTH CARE

The Health Care Industry produces a large amount of literature relevant to patients, doctors, pharmacists, researchers, and so on. Here are some tips to decide which readability formula or formulas to use:

1. Dale-Chall: Useful for any kind of text.

2. Flesch Reading Ease: Useful for any kind of text.

3. Fry Graph: Useful for any kind of text.

4. Gunning Fog: Ideal for business publications and journals.

5. New Fog Count: Useful for technical documents and manuals.

6. FORCAST: Ideal for technical manuals and forms.

7. Raygor Estimate Graph: Useful for any kind of text, including literature and technical documents.

MILITARY AND GOVERNMENTAL AGENCIES

Military and government agencies developed several important readability formulas to measure the readability of enlistment applications and technical manuals. Military and governmental agencies typically use these readability formulas:

1. Automated Readability Index (ARI): Ideal for technical documents and manuals.

2. Flesch Reading Ease: Useful for any kind of text.

3. Flesch-Kincaid: Ideally suited for manuals, forms and other technical documents.

4. FORCAST: Most appropriate for multiple-choice quizzes, applications, entrance forms, etc.

5. Linsear Write: Ideal for technical manuals.

PUBLISHING

The publishing industry includes newspapers, magazine, books, journals, and online media. Publishers mostly use the following readability formulas to make their documents readable:

1. Dale-Chall: Useful for any kind of text.

2. Flesch Reading Ease: Useful for any kind of text.

3. Fry Graph: Useful for any kind of text.

4. Spache: Ideal for texts aimed at up to 3rd grade level students.

5. Powers-Sumner-Kearl: Ideal for text geared towards primary age children (age 7-10).

6. SMOG: Appropriate for text aimed at secondary age (4th grade to college level) readers.

7. Gunning Fog: Ideal for business publication and journals.

8. Coleman-Liau: Ideal for text aimed at 4th grade to college level readers.

9. Raygor Estimate Graph: Useful for any kind of text, including literature and technical documents.

10. Laesbarheds Index (LIX): Useful for documents of any Western European language.
About the Author
Jesse Dawson is the author of "Can YOU Read Me Now?," a free e-book on using readability formulas to write better, available at www.ReadabilityFormulas.com. He also serves as a forum moderator at www.WritingAnswers.com, where he helps writers and non-writers fix English writing problems.
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