Flesch-Kincaid Readability Score: MS Word

Dennis Faas's picture

Your documents aren't much good to anyone if they aren't easily read and understood.

Fortunately, MS Word has a built in feature that will give you a score, letting you know whether your document will be easily read and understood, and that is the Flesch-Kincaid Readability Score, which is one of the best known indicators measuring how easily an adult can read and understand a text.

Readability statistics are good predictors of the level of difficulty of documents, particularly technical ones.

To display the Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease Readability Score in Word, follow the steps below:

  • On the Tools menu, click Options.
  • Click the Spelling & Grammar tab.
  • Select Check grammar with spelling check box.
  • Select the Show Readability Statistics check box.
  • Click OK.
  • Click Spelling and Grammar on the Standard toolbar.

Only when Word finishes checking spelling and grammar will it display information about the reading level of the document.

As a rule of thumb, scores of 90 – 100 are considered easily understandable by an average 5th grader. 8th and 9th grade students could easily understand passages with a score of 60 – 70, and passages with results of 0 – 20 are best understood by college graduates. Reader's Digest magazine has a readability index of approximately 65, Time Magazine scores about 52, and the Harvard law Review has a general readability score in the low 30s.

MS Word displays the Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease readability score, like any other readability score, for text in the last language that was checked, likely in the last processed paragraph.

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