I stumbled across this little gem today:
“43% of web users are “low literacy” users who cannot understand a page written above a Grade 6 level.”
So I found an online tool that checks the readability of web pages, and I plugged knitnut.net into it for an assessment. Here are the results:
Average words per Sentence
Words with 1 Syllable
Words with 2 Syllables
Words with 3 Syllables
Words with 4 or more Syllables
Percentage of word with three or more syllables
Average Syllables per Word
Gunning Fog Index
Flesch Reading Ease
According to the Gunning Fog Index, a reader would require almost 10 years of schooling to comprehend this blog. How does this compare with the other things we read?
|6||TV guides, The Bible, Mark Twain|
|8 - 10||Most popular novels|
|11||Wall Street Journal|
|14||The Times, The Guardian|
|15 - 20||Academic papers|
|Over 20||Only government sites can get away with this, because you can't ignore them.|
|Over 30||The government is covering something up|
Actually, I have no idea what to do with this information. Who’s to say what the optimum level of writing is? According to this article, we should be aiming our writing at the Grade 6-8 level.
On the one hand I think the writing shouldn’t get in the way of the reading. It’s one thing for the content to pose challenges of various sorts, but the writing itself shouldn’t. Good writing is highly readable.
On the other hand, if we’re raising a nation of barely literate citizens, that’s a problem that won’t be solved by dumbing everything down. Maybe we should be raising our collective literacy levels, instead of lowering our collective writing levels.
However, as a personal blogger I have the luxury of writing whatever I want for whoever wants to read it. It was Pfizer who came up with that statistic about the reading level of web users. Presumably they need to convey critical information to health consumers of all literacy levels, so they have to tailor their writing to what is – rather than opine about what ought to be – the literacy level of the average person.
I’m curious to know, if you have a blog or website, your Fog Index score. Are you satisfied with that, or would you rather it was higher or lower?