Have you ever wondered why some writing pieces are easier to read and understand than others?
For instance, I am sure you've experienced the frustration of trying to read a text, whether it be a social media post, article, or email, and not being able to make sense of it.
On the other side, I am also sure you've come across a piece of content that was so easy to read and understand that you breezed through it in no time.
So what makes the difference between these two kinds of texts?
The answer lies in readability.
More precisely, in readability score.
And in today's article, we'll go over everything you need to know about readability scores.
We'll cover what it is, why it matters, and, most importantly, how to use it to your advantage when writing content!
Let's go step by step so you can get the whole picture.
A readability score is a number that tells you how easy or difficult it is to understand a given piece of text.
It uses a combination of metrics such as sentence length, word complexity, syllables per word, and other factors to determine an overall score.
And usually, it approximates the US grade level needed to comprehend the text.
The Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level, Gunning Fog Index, and Automated readability index are the most popular. Still, there are more than 200 readability formulas for the English language, usually categorized by the industry (education, healthcare, publishing. etc.).
That is why it is crucial to remember which formula is used and how that affects the final result.
This article will focus on the Automated readability index (ARI), the score used by AuthoredUp, and other content creation editors, such as the Hemingway app.
ARI gives you a grade level from 1 to 14, the one being the simplest text and 14 being the hardest to read.
Higher the grade = harder to read
Lower the grade = easier to read
Here's what AuthoredUp's readability score looks like:
In short, a readability score is important because it helps you gauge how challenging or accessible your writing needs to be based on the audience you're trying to reach.
This can be especially helpful when writing for an audience with diverse reading levels or backgrounds. You'll know exactly how complex (or easy) each piece of content will be for them to digest.
For example, let's say you're trying to explain something complicated - like quantum physics - to someone who doesn't have any background knowledge in physics. In this case, having a low readability score (which would indicate simpler language and shorter sentences) would be beneficial so that your explanation isn't too hard for them to follow.
On the other hand, if you were trying to explain the same concept to someone with a Ph.D. in physics, you'd likely want to use more complex language and have a higher readability score because they would understand more complicated terms and language.
Also, a readability score is important because it can help you improve your writing.
By using a readability score to assess the difficulty of a given piece of text, you can identify areas that need improvement.
That way, you can make sure that your content is optimized for whatever audience you're trying to reach.
Using a readability score is easy.
All you need to do is paste the text into chosen readability checker and wait a few seconds for the score to be calculated.
When using AuthoredUp for LinkedIn posts, grade level is calculated automatically while you write. And you can see it in the footer:
Once you have your readability score, you can determine if the text is easy or hard to read and make changes accordingly.
If you want to lower your readability score (make the text easier to understand), then you can do a few things.
One of the most effective ways to improve your readability score is to keep sentences short and concise. Aim for clarity with every sentence and ensure that each one conveys its message without unnecessary fluff or jargon.
Another effective way to lower your readability score is to use simple words.
Using simpler words will make it easier for readers of all literacy levels to understand what you're trying to say without having to look up unfamiliar words in a dictionary.
Additionally, using simple words will make your writing sound more conversational and relatable – something that's important when it comes to connecting with an audience online.
Industry jargon or technical terms specific to an industry or profession can be incredibly difficult for readers to understand, even if they're familiar with the topic.
To ensure everyone can understand what you're writing about, avoid using industry-specific language whenever possible. Instead, use simpler terms and explanations so that readers don't have any trouble understanding the point you're trying to make.
Long paragraphs can be intimidating for a reader and lead them straight into information overload territory before they even realize it!
To keep readers engaged and ensure they're actually taking in what you've written, break up long paragraphs into shorter ones whenever possible.
Doing so will help draw attention to key points and keep readers from getting lost in long blocks of text (which is never a good thing!).
Readers should easily be able to move from one sentence or paragraph to the next without having to reread anything because it was unclear or confusingly written.
Using simple language and transitions when appropriate to connect one idea with the next so that everything flows naturally together without any hiccups along the way.
This will make for much smoother reading overall and help keep your readability score low.
Although it's practical to aim for a readability grade level of 8 or lower, in some cases, you may want to increase the readability score intentionally (make the text more complex).
To increase the readability score, consider these strategies:
Where you want to make the text more advanced, use longer sentences. This will naturally increase the readability score since longer, and more complex sentences are harder to read.
Keep them clear, concise, and easy to follow so the reader won't get lost in a long-winded explanation.
Sometimes, you may want to use technical terms or jargon specific to the industry or topic.
Doing so will make the text more dense and complex, thus increasing its readability score. Just explain what you mean when using these terms so that the readers can understand what you're talking about.
Using more complex syntax – such as subordination and coordination – can also help boost your readability score while ensuring the text is understandable.
This includes using phrases such as "although," "in spite of," and "on the other hand" to introduce more complex ideas into the text without making it too dense.
Contractions, such as "can't" or "won't," can help make the text sound more conversational and relatable.
However, if you want to boost your readability score, then it's best to avoid using them.
Writing out the full versions of words can help make the text sound more formal and complex, thus increasing its readability score.
Using more complex words can also help increase your readability score.
However, make sure not to overdo it, as it's still important to ensure that the text is understandable.
You don't want to use words that the readers won't know or understand, making it difficult for them to get anything out of their reading.
I knew you were going to ask this question!
The best readability score is subjective and depends on your audience, the purpose of your text, and many other factors.
Generally speaking, a readability score of 8 or lower is considered the "sweet spot." It indicates that most people can easily read and understand the text while still being somewhat challenging enough to keep the reader engaged.
However, there is a difference between content types. You don't expect the same investment and concentration when someone is scrolling through the feed, reading breaking news, or consulting technical documentation.
Social media posts, including those written on LinkedIn, usually have lower readability grades.
However, there's no point in having a text that is easy to read but doesn't convey valuable information or fails to drive the desired action.
This balance between readability and comprehension is the key to creating effective text that will resonate with your readers.
What you want to keep in mind when creating content, significantly LinkedIn posts is that people are often scrolling through their feeds quickly and skimming the text, so it would be clever to make posts as easy to read as possible without sacrificing the content's quality.
A readability score is a powerful tool for content creation. It's an excellent mechanism for ensuring the message reaches its intended audience without making them feel overwhelmed, confused, or bored.
So, the next time you sit at a computer screen ready to write, remember to keep the readability score in mind. It might be the difference between a post that gets read and one that gets skipped over.
However, a readability grade is only one of the multiple criteria you should have in mind when writing content on LinkedIn.
Ready to see what your readability score is and start making more compelling content?
AuthoredUp is a new all-in-one content creation tool designed explicitly for LinkedIn. It can measure your post's readability score and help you write, preview, and format them to ensure they look perfect before you publish.
Plus, you can save your posts as drafts so that you can come back and edit them later. How cool is that?
Try out AuthoredUp today and see the difference for yourself. You won't be disappointed!
Important notice: AuthoredUp is currently FREE to use cause it's still in beta, but it will be a PAID subscription very soon! So, don't miss out on this great opportunity and try AuthoredUp today.