Five Rules for Readability
Tom Sant, author of Persuasive Business Proposals, shared five rules for making anything you write more readable. Microsoft Word can automatically tell you if you’ve met four of the rules: short sentences (average 17 words or less); short words (average five characters or less); 10th grade reading level or lower; and less than 10% passive voice. I’ve been writing for years and never knew about the “Readability Statistics” tool in Word. The fifth rule is no fluff, guff, geek or weasel words in your writing.
Press F1 while in Word to pull up the Help/Search menu. Search for Readability Statistics. Follow the instructions to turn on the feature. If using Word 2007, the “Word Options” choice is at the bottom of the right hand column of the main Word pull down menu. Once the feature is activated, you have to manually check the Spelling and Grammar of your document once. At the end of the process the summary pops up. Cool feature – I’m at a 7.0 grade reading level, 4.5 characters per word, 16.3 words per sentence and 8% for passive voice for this insight. I was higher on all these statistics and made adjustments.