Readability Scores

Also known as: readability, readability level, readability index, readability test, readability levels, readability rating, readability tests, readability statistics, readability formula, readability formulas, readability tests, readability software, or grade level readability scores.

What are Readability Scores?

Readability Scores

Readability scores assess the reading level of a document. Each readability score bases its rating on the average number of syllables per word and the average number of words per sentence. For better accuracy, the computation requires a sample of at least 200 words.

Readability scores are part of what are more generally called readability statistics.

Each readability score is then mapped to its corresponding grade level based on a value scale that may vary between computation formula:



Grade Level

TBD   5-10 1st grade
2nd grade
3rd grade
4th grade
Primary Very easy
TBD 10-12 5th grade
6th grade
TBD 12-14 7th grade
8th grade
Secondary Easy
TBD 14-16 9th grade
10th grade
TBD 16-18 11th grade
12th grade
TBD 18-22 13th grade
15th grade
TBD 22+ 16th grade
and higher

Readability statistics

Readability statistics are indicators, under the form of scores, that measure how easily an adult can read and understand a text. Readability statistics are therefore a good predictor of the level of difficulty of particularly technical documents. They present different readability scores that are computed using readability formulas.

Best-known Readability Scores

The most commonly used readability statistics formulas are:

How to display Readability Scores in Microsoft MS Word?

Microsoft Word (MS Word), as a powerful word processor, provide you with a built-in tool

  1. On the Tools menu, click Options, and then click the Spelling & Grammar tab.
  2. Select the Check grammar with spelling check box.
  3. Select the Show readability statistics check box, and then click OK.
  4. Click Spelling and Grammar on the Standard toolbar.
    It is only when Word finishes checking spelling and grammar that it will display information about the reading level of the document. To skip the correction process, press the "Ignore All" button located in the upper right part of the suggestion box, then will appear the Readability Scores box.

Be aware that MS Word displays readability scores for text in the last language that was checked, likely in the last processed paragraph.

Readability Scores Macro

Because Microsoft Word waits for the whole spelling & grammar checking process to complete before displaying readability scores, it may take some time to see the first bit of information about readability scores. You may shorten this time by either pressing the button "Ignore All" in the upper right part of the suggestion box, or by implementing a readability scores macro, which computes readability scores, and does only this job. So, to create your own readability scores marco in MS Word, do the following:

  1. open the "Tools" menu,
  2. select "Macro", then "Macros",
  3. give a name to your macro like "Display_Readability_Scores_Macro",
  4. hit the button "Create", and
  5. in the Visual Basic (VB) Editor, merely copy & paste the code below in your new readability scores macro definition.

Readability Scores Macro Source Code:

' Implement your own readability scores
' by using the built-in readability scores
' object provided by Microsoft Word

' Macro written using Visual Basic (VB) Editor

Sub Display_Readability_Scores_Macro()
' Start of the readability statistics macro
   Dim Stats As String
   Dim Words As String
   Dim Characters As String
   Dim Paragraphs As String
   Dim Sentences As String
   Dim Sentences_per_paragraph As String
   Dim Words_per_sentence As String
   Dim Characters_per_word As String
   Dim Ratio_of_passive_sentences As String
   Dim Flesch_Reading_Ease_score As String
   Dim Flesch_Kincaid_Grade_Level_score As String
   Dim Coleman_Liau_Readability_Score As String

   ' There are 10 readability statistics parameters
   ' Get their value from the built-in readability statistics object

   Words                            = ActiveDocument.Content.ReadabilityStatistics(1).Value
                       = ActiveDocument.Content.ReadabilityStatistics(2).Value
                       = ActiveDocument.Content.ReadabilityStatistics(3).Value
                        = ActiveDocument.Content.ReadabilityStatistics(4).Value
          = ActiveDocument.Content.ReadabilityStatistics(5).Value
               = ActiveDocument.Content.ReadabilityStatistics(6).Value
              = ActiveDocument.Content.ReadabilityStatistics(7).Value
       = ActiveDocument.Content.ReadabilityStatistics(8).Value
        = ActiveDocument.Content.ReadabilityStatistics(9).Value
= ActiveDocument.Content.ReadabilityStatistics(10).Value

' Compute Coleman-Liau readability score
   Coleman_Liau_Readability_Score = Int((5.89 * Characters / Words) - (3 * Sentences) / (1000 * Words) - 15.8)

= "BASIC COUNTERS"             & vbCrLf & _
           ""                           & vbCrLf & _
           "Characters"                 & vbTab & vbTab & " : " & Characters & vbCrLf & _
           "Words"                      & vbTab & vbTab & vbTab & " : " & Words & vbCrLf & _
           "Sentences"                  & vbTab & vbTab & " : " & Sentences & vbCrLf & _
           "Paragraphs"                 & vbTab & vbTab & " : " & Paragraphs & vbCrLf & __
                           & vbCrLf & _
           "RATIOS"                     & vbCrLf & _
           ""                           & vbCrLf & _
           "Characters per word"        & vbTab & " : " & Characters_per_word & vbCrLf & _
           "Words per sentence"         & vbTab & " : " & Words_per_sentence & vbCrLf & _
           "Sentences per paragraph"    & vbTab & " : " & Sentences_per_paragraph & vbCrLf & _
           ""                           & vbCrLf & _
           "READABILITY SCORES"         & vbCrLf & _
           ""                           & vbCrLf & _
           "Passive Sentences"          & vbTab & vbTab & " : " & Ratio_of_passive_sentences & vbCrLf & _
           "Flesch Reading Ease"        & vbTab & " : " & Flesch_Reading_Ease_score & vbCrLf & _
           "Flesch Kincaid Grade Level" & vbTab & " : " & Flesch_Kincaid_Grade_Level_score & vbCrLf & _
           "Coleman-Liau readability"   & vbTab & " : " & Coleman_Liau_Readability_Score & vbCrLf

   ' Display all readability scores parameters
   MsgBox Stats, vbOKOnly, "Readability Statistics"

' End of the readability scores macro
End Sub  ' Sub Display_Readability_Scores_Marco()

The readability scores macro displays the value for each of the ten following readability scores exposed by Microsoft Word, plus, in eleventh position, Coleman-Liau Grade Level readability score we computed in our own:

  1. Words
  2. Characters
  3. Paragraphs
  4. Sentences
  5. Sentences per paragraph
  6. Words per sentence
  7. Characters per word
  8. Ratio of passive sentences
  9. Flesch Reading Ease score
  10. Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level score
  11. Coleman-Liau Grade Level readability score


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