Tools for writing: Microsoft Word readability statistics

Readability statsThere is a little-known feature in Word that displays readability statistics as part of the spelling and grammar check. Specifically, it tells you how many passive sentences there are and gives scores for Flesch Reading Ease and Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level.

I’ve written about readability metrics before. They’re not going to make you a great writer but they can stop you being a dreadful one. Find out how to switch on readability statistics in Microsoft word.

17 Responses to Tools for writing: Microsoft Word readability statistics

  1. Owen Lystrup May 28, 2006 at 8:39 am #

    Though I know quite a bit about grammar and language, and I can spot a passive construction easily, I sometimes get pretty lazy.

    So when I’ve written something I don’t much care about, I’ll use this tool to find all my pesky passive sentences.

    You can highlight each sentence, spell check it and when it asks “Finished, do you want to continue checking the rest of the document?” Click “no.” It will then show you the readability statistics for that particular sentence. If it’s passive, it will say 100%. If not, 0%.

    Pretty useful and quick. Better than reading the entire document over again.

    Though I guess not writing in passive voice would be easier the first time around.

  2. Steve Armstrong January 17, 2007 at 2:49 am #

    I’m planning to start writing a radio show for internet streaming. Also, I have been taking classes in fictional writing (just to get the hang of writing a story) any suggestions on how to research material without losing focus of writing the story?

  3. Natalia Nigro April 14, 2007 at 2:13 am #

    I have a question, is the readability option available in a Spanish text? I have run this option in a Spanish text and I got the count and averages statistics but not the readability ones?
    Could you please help me?
    Thanks!!

  4. Natalie Guerreiro May 8, 2007 at 9:58 am #

    I’ve just been invited to teach an “Improved Reading” course in Portugal. Though I was given all the information, texts and exercices I need, I’ve been doing a personal research. All the texts selected have specific readability statistics. during my research I found diferente tools/ formulas: Gunning Fog Index; Flesch Fog Index and The Smog Index. Reading this page’s comments I found Miss. Natalia’s Nigro question very interesting and I was woundering if I could also have access to its answer. I’ve latelly found out that for example these kind of tools/formulas are not supposed to be applied to germain texts because of its language structure. I also teach spanish and due to the resembles of these two languages (portugese and spanish) all the info I can get will be very precious to me.
    Best regards!!

  5. Toni Thompson December 3, 2007 at 2:48 pm #

    DOes anyone have info on readability scales for Spanish text? Please help!

  6. Brian Singh August 7, 2008 at 10:37 pm #

    I am urgently looking for a software package which will not only check grammar but also provide readability Index and Flesch-Kincaird Grade level.

  7. Kathryn Keeley January 8, 2009 at 12:01 am #

    What is the Flesch-Kincaird Grade level?

  8. Ed Worley April 28, 2009 at 8:46 pm #

    Where is the readability index in Word 07?

  9. Iconoclast July 17, 2009 at 5:33 am #

    I don’t agree with the witch-hunt on passive sentences. Some ideas should be de-emphasized, and repetitive language patterns should be avoided for maximum effect.

  10. W. D. Fenwick Jr. October 20, 2011 at 7:10 pm #

    Matthew Stibbe:

    In Microsoft Office Word 2007, under the Review tab is an ABC Spelling & Grammar button that helpfully checks spelling and grammar and then provides Readability Statistics. Do you know how can I skip the spelling and grammar checks and get just the readability statistics?

    Do you know who might know?

    Thank you.

    WDF

  11. Betty Ryan November 15, 2011 at 2:34 am #

    Beware, aspiring writers. Word is grossly inaccurate. Not every sentence with “was” or “by” is passive.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Bad Language / Rules of thumb for writing - June 9, 2008

    [...] Write for the 8th grade. The level you should write to if you want the ‘general public’ to be able to understand what you write (as opposed to a technical or well-educated audience). You can gauge this with readability metrics. Source: Jakob Neilsen and Hoa Loranger’s great new book ‘Prioritizing Web Usability‘. You can measure readability, at least in crude terms, using metrics such as Kincard and Fog. See my previous post: Tools for writing: readability statistics in Word. [...]

  2. Readability statistics | Bghomesforyou - June 26, 2012

    [...] Tools for writing: Microsoft Word readability statistics – Bad LanguageMay 10, 2012 … The readability statistics I’m talking about give your text a score that helps you understand the effort it takes your learner to understand your … [...]

  3. Top 10 Word hacks for writers | Bad Language - November 5, 2013

    […] Check readability Sometimes, the passive slips into your work or your style gets away from you. Follow the steps to display readability […]

  4. MSDN Blogs - December 9, 2013

    […] stats. Use the built-in tools in Microsoft Word. (For instructions on switching them on, see Microsoft Word Readability Statistics.) Aim for under 50 in the Flesch reading ease, under 8 for the grade level and no passive […]

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