Improve Your Website In One Evening
What have you written today?
An email to a prospect? A page for your website? A blog or article? Your LinkedIn profile?
You will have checked it before sending or publishing. How easy is it to read and understand?
Here is a simple check
There is a is tool that’s available to everyone. It checks your content for readability and it’s in Microsoft Word.
Yet most people don’t use it. Or haven’t heard about it.
You can do it in just one evening – or tea break. It’s an easy way to check your content, improve it and make yourself easily understood.
It’s easy. Why not put a page of your content to the test right now?
How to get started
In the Word Options Proofing screen put a tick in the box to “Show readability statistics”.
Now, every time you run a spell check on your writing, you’ll see a readability statistics check box at the end.
Check your writing – is it easy reading?
Choose the content you want to improve.
Create a Microsoft Word file and copy the content into it.
Check the spelling and grammar and when it finishes, a panel will appear: Readability Statistics.
When you click ‘OK’, the ‘Readability Statistics’ will show you how readable your website content is.
Use the Flesch Readability Score as a smart self-check for your writing.
What the scores mean
Now I’ll explain the scores and we’ll look at ways to improve them, which will make your web page easier to read.
The scores above apply to this post.
Word and character counts are a useful guide. And when you try it, you may find it one of the best and easiest checks you can do on your own writing.
Here you can check for wordiness. Are your sentences and paragraphs short enough? If so, they will be quick to scan, kind to the human eye and easy to read. Or are your paragraphs and sentences too long? Less than 15 words works best. Words with fewer syllables are easier to read and you can use the ‘characters per word’ as a guide.
Passive sentences – keep this as low as possible. Passive sentences are longer, and harder, to read. Active sentences are easier to understand.
Flesch Reading Ease – this figure is a percentage. If you aim for around 60% you have achieved plain English. Your writing will have the clarity to convey your message perfectly. If your score is below 50% check for sentence length and passive verbs, aiming for:
- Shorter paragraphs – up to 3 sentences
- Shorter sentences – up to 15 words, and
- Shorter words
to raise the score for easier reading.
Sometimes, the score may be around 40-50% if the content contains technical terms, for example.
Shorten your sentences and paragraphs and re-write some sentences to simplify. Never use a long word when a short one will do.
Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level – this relates to US grade school reading ages. Aim for a grade level 8 or lower and everyone will understand it. Grade 7 equals a reading age of about 12. Remember that when someone is reading your text, they may not be concentrating. In this case, their comparative reading age will be lower. So it pays to make your writing easy for busy and distracted people to read.
One More Check
Now you’ve checked and perfected your work, leave it overnight. When you come back to it in the morning, you’ll see it afresh and you’ll want to tweak for extra polish.
I hope this helps you make easy improvements to your web writing. You will find people:
- Stay longer on your page
- Read your content
- Come back for more, and
- Continue to learn more about you until they make an enquiry to buy.
If you check all your writing in this way, your communications will become clearer and people will do what you want them to do.
Learn more about the Flesch-Kincaid readability checker at the Microsoft Support website.
If you would like to ask a question or comment about this post, please get in touch.