Short sentences may be the biggest secret weapon to win traffic, readers and trust. Used well, they help you look sharp. They get your message through. People want what’s easy to understand.
If you use words to build an audience, reading ease helps you stand out. When your point is easy to see and understand, readers feel happy. People who search online are hungry to learn. Brief sentences help them grasp and use your text with less effort. That feels good!
Short sentences offer great strength. We tend to overlook their power to attract and engage readers. It’s time to discover and harness the value of reading ease. Let’s improve our grip on this writing skill!
How to Make a Long, Fact-Filled Article Easier to Read
Writing with shorter words, sentences and paragraphs does not mean you must dumb down your text. Nor must you cut your piece short. Feel free to write using the words you need; just remove what’s unnecessary.
Here are five tips to help you edit your work for easier reading:
- When you find a sentence packed with ideas, edit it into separate sentences. See if these serve your reader better.
- If a short word can replace a
multisyllabiclong one, swap it in.
- When a paragraph becomes a big block of text, break it up. Options include a simple line break, subheading, or image.
- Use subheadings to engage people who skim. (Most people skim first to see if your work is worth reading!)
- Write like you might speak in conversation. Use phrases that seem natural to you.
Concise text hooks readers. Take this example.
“I do not recommend that you write shorter content…. Instead of shortening your content, tighten your writing.” So says Neil Patel in “How to Write Content That Engages Mobile Readers.”
Neil Patel’s blog post has 2,156 shares so far. It scores 65 on the a reading ease scale, and ranks at the 6th grade reading level according to Readable.io. It meets an important need, and it’s easy to read. That’s worth sharing!
How to Measure Readability: The Flesch Reading Ease Test
Reading ease matters so much, experts put tools at our fingertips to measure it. The renown Flesch reading ease scale is one such tool. Dr. Rudolf Flesch (with a PhD in Library Science!) developed it from of his passion for literacy.
Flesch redefined readability when he published The Art of Readable English (1949). It introduced the Flesch Reading Ease Test, now used by millions of people.
The test takes a minimum 100-word sample, and runs it rough a formula to standardize the results on a scale of 1 to 100. The formula counts words, syllables, and the number of sentences. Shorter sentences with shorter words score better.
A score of 0 is very hard, 100 is very easy. A score of 60-70 signals plain English, which most 13 to 15 year olds can grasp easily. A score of 80-90 is easy to read. It’s conversational.
To make the score’s meaning even clearer, the Flesch-Kincaid formula translates the Flesch score into a US grade level. A Flesch score of 65 translates to 8 or 9th grade reading level, for example.
How to Check Reading Ease in MicroSoft Word
Tools to run the Flesch and Flesch-Kincaid tests come with Microsoft Word. If you use Word, you can turn on these tools in the Preferences menu for grammar and spelling. On the settings form, check the box under “Grammar” for “Show Readability Statistics”:
Then, when you run a spell check, you’ll see a Readability section with your score:
5 Readability Checkers that Will Make You Love Editing Your Work
Want an online alternative to Microsoft Word?
Here are a few:
- Readability Formulas http://www.readabilityformulas.com/free-readability-formula-tests.php
- Readability Analyzer: https://datayze.com/readability-analyzer.php
- WebPageFX readability tool for web pages: https://www.webpagefx.com/tools/read-able/
- Readabile.io marks up your text with color-coded highlights. I liked their clear grading system, and help finding problem areas fast.
- Hemingway is a popular online markup tool. I used the online version for free; the app is for sale.
People want content they can use. That’s the main reason why reading ease matters. As search engines get smarter, they will get better at finding the best information to give people. When your content clear, helpful and a breeze to read, you deliver more value. That’s the kind of user experience anyone would want to deliver.
Finding An Easy Read is Like Eating Your Favorite Cookie
Brief clear text is like a chocolate chip cookie. It’s packed with energy. It’s well defined. People ingest with glee. It triggers instant satisfaction and the urge to keep consuming.
The quickest way to touch your web visitor’s heart is to make your truth as clear and simple as you can.
Reading ease is good for your audience and good for your business. It strengthens value, invites trust, and entices your readers to want more.