Sunday, December 23, 2007

Writing for Reading

This web site supposedly tells you the "reading level" of your blog.

Reading level is not quite what it would seem. If you are writing too fancy, a lot of folks will not understand what you are saying.

In addition, a lot of folks with very little to say dress up their deficiencies by using big worlds and writing long sentences and long paragraphs.

On the other end of the scale, if your prose gets too simple and stilted, it may read as boring and juvenile as a Dick-and-Jane book.

Supposedly, the rule of thumb is to strive for about a sixth to eighth grade reading level.

In short, I appear to be hitting the mark. Not that I was trying. I just believe in declarative sentences like "Call me Ismael."

A few random bits and bobs on literacy in America:


  • The 1992 National Adult Literacy Survey of the National Center for Education Statistics found that "Nearly 50% of the Americans surveyed cannot read well enough to find a single piece of information in a short publication, nor can they make low level inferences based on what they read."

  • About one in every four Americans (25%) is a high school dropout.

  • About half (45%) have gone to college for some period of time, but fewer than one in six (15%) have a college degree
Below, we have the pretty, talented, and not-well-educated Kellie Pickler summarizing it all for us on the television show "Are you smarter than a Fifth Grader?"

Enjoy!


"A" is for appalachia, and "B" is for blonde.
.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

“Broadly speaking, the short words are the best, and the old words best of all.” Sir Winston Churchill

Luisa said...

In addition, a lot of folks with very little to say dress up their deficiencies by using big worlds and writing long sentences and long paragraphs.

Hey, I resemble that remark. [Apparently --- and I'm burying the evidence at the foot of the blog.]

Fave Ben Franklin quote: "Write with the learned, pronounce with the vulgar. Dude."

Caveat said...

I got the same reading level and took it as a bit of an insult. Thanks to your revealing statistics, I'm happier about it now.

icr said...

Confirmation of your wisdom: :)
http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/120/analysis-of-paralysis.html

"Keep it simple, stupid." That's the advice every executive has received on how to share strategy with employees. The subtext is often, "Keep it simple, because your people are stupid." But you don't need to embrace simplicity just so your people can comprehend your message. The point of simplicity is more fundamental: Simplicity allows people to act.
(...)

Cardimom said...

'Spider pig, spider pig; does whatever a spider pig does.' Nuf said. (snorkle, snort)