For years I depended on the readability calculator built in to Microsoft Word. This feature calculates how easy a document is to read, based on the work of Dr. Rudolph Flesch. It also gives the years of education required to easily read and comprehend the document, based on the formula of Flesch and J.P. Kincaid.
I devoted several pages of my book, Write Like You Mean Business, to showing readers how to set up their copies of MS Word to give them readability statistics. I even quoted the MS Word Flesch scores for many examples and every chapter of my book. However I had to explain that MS Word only gives Flesch-Kincaid grade levels up to year 12 — the last year of high school in the USA.
Then I shifted from PC back to Mac. I was using the ultra-simple “TextEdit” word processor that came installed on my PowerBook Pro. No readability stats available. Boo-Hoo. Then I discovered “Flesh 2.0”, a free download that gives me Flesch readability and Flesh-Kincaid Grade Level numbers for my TextEdit documents.
But it gets even better. “Flesh 2.0” calculates Flesch-Kincaid grade levels ABOVE “12”. This means you can get a number for a piece of text indicating not just “university level”, but which year of university.
Then I read an academic paper and discovered that serious people were unimpressed with the accuracy of the MS Word calculator when it came to Flesch-Kincaid grade levels. Yet another reason to use “Flesh 2.0”, even if you have MS Word.
I’ll be incorporating all this into the next edition of the book. In the meantime, do yourself a favour and download “Flesh 2.0” at this address:
It’s slightly clumsy, as you have to copy and paste your document into the “Flesh” window. But it’s worth it to get a more accurate estimate of how readable your copy is.