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Word 2007: Readability Statistics

Martin England

December, 2008

Word 2007Noise is defined as anything that interferes with the reception and comprehension of a message in the communications business. It can exist on a literal level, such as a loud air conditioner which interferes with a conversation between two people, but it can also be a matter of semantics. This includes the use of jargon instead of accessible words. As Mark Twain once wrote, “Never use a two bit word where a nickel word will do.” According to the Informatics Review , an association that reviews medical journals, messages should be written at the 6th-8th grade reading level in order to communicate effectively with most U.S. citizens (Source: informatics-review.com).

Writing in the passive voice (instead of active) is another noise factor. The passive voice makes readers work harder to understand your message, as they get bogged down in comprehension rather than reading. Short sentences also strengthen a message’s readability.

Thankfully Word 2007 is equipped with a readability feature which helps writers measure a number of key message elements, including the Flesch-Kincaid Reading Grade Level (this piece weighed in at a 10.6), average word count per sentence (15.6 here), and passive sentence count (12%). Do as I say, not as I do.

Follow these steps to activate Readability Statistics in Word 2007:
1. Click the Office Button and choose Word Options.
2. Select Proofing.
3. Place a check beside the Show readability statistics option.
4. Click OK.

To view Readability Statistics (once activated)
1. Open a Word document.
2. Run the Spelling and Grammar tool (located in the Review section).
3. Statistics will then appear.

Please visit microsoft.com/office/greattips/products.mspx for more Microsoft Office 2007 tips.


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