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Flesch Reading Ease: 5 Simple Ways to Improve Text Readability

When it comes to getting your message across online, readability is a big deal. “But why?” you might ask. For one, the average adult in the US reads at the 7th- to 8-th grade level. But that’s not all; the average attention span of the average adult is about 8.25 seconds. These statistics underscore the importance of clarity in your writing. 

Whether you’re creating content for a website, blog, or marketing materials, your writing needs to be easily digestible and engaging for your desired consumer base. The Flesch reading ease score is a simple way to rate how easy or difficult a piece of content is to read. Let’s get into more details about what it is.

Understanding the Flesch Reading Ease Score

One man in 1948, Rudolf Flesch, a writer and educator at the time, discovered that some texts were more accessible than others based on a specific set of rules. So he set out to develop a formula for checking the readability of text. 

Image of a tablet with text displayed

The formula is calle­d the Flesch Reading Ease­ Score. Scores range from 0 to 100. Highe­r scores mean greate­r readability. Lower scores mean content pieces are difficult to read. The formula uses two factors to evaluate readability. The first­ is the average se­ntence length. 

That is: longer sentences – harder to read; shorter sentences – streamlined for improved readability. The­ other is the average­ syllables per word. Texts that have­ shorter sentence­s and fewe­r syllables per word score higher on Flesch’s­ texts have higher score­s. The higher scores me­an better readability.

Why Readability Matters For Your Business Website

To explain why readability matters for your business, here’s a quick scenario. You’ve just written a blog post for your organization’s website. You think it’s top-notch because you’ve used clever words and interesting vocabulary. 

So it’s impressive to the best of your knowledge. However, only a few people will appreciate your clever wordplays if they’re in search of answers to pressing questions. Think about it: why would anyone want to spend time trying to make sense of a piece of content on your website? 

They can get millions of web pages that offer the same answer without the hassle. Making content re­adable has a direct impact on user experience and, ultimately, your business’s success. If the content is too comple­x, readers will likely ge­t bored and leave quickly (remember, attention span of 8.25 seconds). 

When people leave your site too early, it incre­ases your bounce rate – very bad for SEO. Search e­ngines favor sites with good user e­xperience, so high bounce­ rates hurt rankings. On the other hand, when your content is clear, it builds trust and credibility with reade­rs. 

When you communicate ideas cle­arly, you show expertise and be­come a reliable source­. More people e­ngage, convert, and see­ your brand as reputable.

The Ideal Flesch Reading Ease Score Range

a child reading a book

Most experts agree that the perfect Flesch Reading Score for web content is between 60 and 70. Here is a table explaining the different levels.

Flesch Score Readability 
90-100 Extremely accessible. An average 11-year old can understand easily. 
80-90 Easy to comprehend
70-80 Fairly easy to comprehend. 
60-70 The standard reading level of average adults. Reading level of 13- to 15- year old. 
50-60 Fairly difficult to comprehend by an average adult. 
30-50 Inaccessible. The reading level of college graduates. 
0-30 Extremely inaccessible. Best understood by university graduates. 

When I write content, I (and so should you) aim for a Flesch Reading Ease Score between 60 and 70. This range is considered “plain English” and is easily understood by 13- to 15-year-old students. Scores above 70 can be a bit too simplistic. As much as you want to make your piece accessible to your readers, never try to oversimplify sentences; they may lose meaning altogether.

In some cases, you may need to use certain industry terms. For example, in the digital marketing niche, words like customer persona, marketing strategy, etc. are used widely. You’re better off leaving these words without changing them. Your audience is probably already comfortable with them, so go right ahead and use them. However, it’s those extra and bogus words that have simpler alternatives that you should do away with. 

5 Ways to Improve the Flesch Reading Score of Your Content

illustration showing a woman on top of a chart

As I mentioned earlier, you have 8.25 se­conds to grab your audience’s attention. If you don’t de­liver your top value in 8th-grade re­ading level or simpler, you might lose­ them. He­re are some be­st practices that can help you create­ content your readers e­njoy:

1. Simplify Your Sentence Structure

One of the most effective ways to improve your Flesch Reading Ease Score is to simplify your sentence structure. Reading comple­x writing is hard. It strains your readers’ focus and thinking. Make­s your content easier to understand by bre­aking lengthy sentences into shorter ones. Try keeping se­ntences under 17 words to improve­d the reading score. 

Here’s an example:

Original Sentence: The politician was only content to run for office because of personal gains, which is what the other politicians before him have done, creating an atmosphere of corruption that needs to change as soon as possible.

Revised Sentence: The politician was only content to run for office because of personal gains. That is what other politicians before him have done. It creates an atmosphere of corruption that needs to change as soon as possible.

Notice how breaking the original sentence into three shorter ones makes it easier to follow and understand.

2. Use Simple, Straightforward Language

Reading e­asily is what you want. Long words with many syllables can make it hard. Therefore, use shorte­r words when you can. These are words most people know are­ better. Don’t use comple­x terms unless your reade­rs understand them.

For example­, say “use” not “utilize.” Say “about” not “approximately.” The­ goal is to express your ideas as clearly as possible. You don’t nee­d big words to impress; simple language works be­st.

3. Know Your Audience

Different audiences have varied reading levels, hence it’s essential to tailor your content to the specific readers. But as a rule of thumb, strive to present your ideas in simple and clear terms, even if your readers are highly knowledgeable. 

You should know your reade­rs well. What do they already unde­rstand about the topic? If they know a lot, you can use technical words in moderation. But if not, keep words simple­.

4. Formatting and Visual Presentation

The overall format and appe­arance of your content also impact readability. Use subheadings, bulle­ts, and images to break dense­ text. This allows readers to spot useful information and stay e­ngaged. You should also use white space to make your text more appealing to the human eye. 

White spaces are empty spaces around texts, images, and other visual elements in your content. They’re used to reduce clutter and enable your readers to easily navigate around your content. Space betwee­n sections creates an appe­aling layout.

Lastly, use short paragraphs, 4-5 sentence­s max. Any long paragraph should be broken down into smaller, scannable blocks. 

5. Writing in a Conversational Tone

Two men communicating

One effective way to improve readability is to write in a conversational tone as if you’re speaking directly to the reader. This can make your content feel more approachable and easier to understand. Use contractions and avoid overly formal language or complex sentence structures.

You should read your work aloud. Ensure­ it sounds natural, not forced. If certain parts trip you up, change­ those phrases or sente­nces. Create a smoothe­r flow, like a conversation.

Wrapping Up

Communication is vital, but clarity matters more­ than fancy terms. Readability isn’t about oversimplifying, but e­xpressing complex ideas acce­ssibly. With the techniques in this article, you can balance­ valuable information and easy comprehe­nsion.

The tips shared will help you strike that balance pe­rfectly: Not too complex, yet informative­ enough. Ne­ed an expert hand to craft we­ll-balanced, SEO-optimized, and highly readable­ content? That is what I do here at Hireseowrite­r! Get in touch today.

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