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Lesson Learned: Document Readability

I had the privilege of attending a talk by Dr Tom Sant,  author of  “The Language of Success” and “Persuasive Business Proposals” today and he shared a real nugget.  It is actually a feature built into Microsoft Word, though I was totally oblivious to it.  The feature  evaluates the document and creates a report on the readability of the document.

The first trick is to enable this feature:

  • Open up Microsoft Word
  • Open Options – in Office 12 click on Office button and click on the Word Button
  • Click on the Proofing option from the menu on the left.

wordoptionsetting1

  • As indicated by the A – Ensure that the “Show readability statistics” checkbox is checked.
  • As indicated by the B – Ensure that these boxes NOT checked
  • Now execute the Spell checker as normal
  • Handle the notifications regarding spelling or grammar warnings.
  • At the end of the check a popup will be displayed similar to the following:

wordreadabilitystatistics

Check the Averages

  • Words per sentence should be 15 to 17
  • Characters per word – for best readability this should be less than 6

Check the Readability

  • Passive Sentences should be less than 10%
  • Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level should less than 10

So as you can see, the first paragraph of this blog post does not rate very high for readability.  It must be the names of Tom’s books.

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