Readability?

Rochelle Hartman posted this at the LJ Tech blog, pointing to a site that tests a website for readability.

Well, what the heck…

Here are the results for W.a.r., presumably just for the home page, not the whole blog:

Reading Level Results Summary Value
Total sentences 439
Total words 4738
Average words per Sentence 10.79
Words with 1 Syllable 3131
Words with 2 Syllables 1029
Words with 3 Syllables 380
Words with 4 or more Syllables 198
Percentage of word with three or more syllables 12.20%
Average Syllables per Word 1.50
Gunning Fog Index 9.20
Flesch Reading Ease 68.73
Flesch-Kincaid Grade 6.35

So I write at either a sixth-grader’s level or that of a high school frosh. Wonderful. Well, such is the charm of a pseudo-Asimovian writing style (much of Asimov’s simplicity, none of the grace or creativity).

This doesn’t come as a great surprise. One of my columns is based on word count, and the editor and I found that I need to submit about 20% more than the stated word count in order to fill the available space: I use lots of short words. Not necessarily because I don’t know any longer ones, but if you choose to make that supposition, who am I to argue?

4 Responses to “Readability?”

  1. Laura Says:

    I trust you’ve read what George Orwell has to say on the subject. (Google offers up many other renderings of the essay, if you don’t happen to like that one–or, if you’re like me, you have a few hard copies hanging around, in one form or another. I used to try to teach it, the more fool I.)

  2. walt Says:

    Laura: Thanks for that. If I ever did read the Orwell essay, it was a long time ago–in any case, it’s worth printing out and reading at leisure.

    After I published this post, I realized how presumptuous it was for me to suggest any resemblance between my writing and Isaac Asimov’s, but the intent is there. I’d like to think I do better on precision and clarity in my columns, books, and Cites & Insights than in these off-the-cuff musings, but I may be fooling myself. Short words in sometimes-complex sentences: That seems to be my hallmark. Despite frequent logorrhea, I do try to keep my sesquipedalian proclivities under control (and that’s the highest syllable-to-word ratio you’re likely to see at W.a.r. for some time, unless I’m going on about liblogs under another name).

  3. Laura Says:

    I think you’re doing quite well on precision and clarity (and good humor), although it’s possible that three years of teaching freshman comp at a Big 10 university has lowered my standards (but then again, I was also studying writing there, so perhaps that balances things out). Anyway, Orwell in general and “Politics and the English Langauge” are well worth reading. I must admit I’ve never read Asimov.

  4. walt Says:

    Never read Asimov? Well, I could say “unless you’re a science fiction reader, you might not like him,” but in fact science fiction was a small part of Asimov’s polymath output (for example, he wrote a superb and well-respected two-volume guide to the Bible, even though he was an atheist)–he wrote popular science, dirty limericks, and all sorts of other stuff in 300+ books.

    (He’s also my classic example of why, although copyright shouldn’t be “life plus 70 years,” it probably shouldn’t be 14 years either: His landmark Foundation trilogy really didn’t earn him any royalties until it had been out for quite a long time, because the first book publisher had a problem paying royalties…)

    Thanks for the kind words. I try.


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