08 Jun

What is Flesch Kincaid Score and Why It’s Important for Online Writing

What is Flesch Kincaid Score and Why It’s Important for Online Writing
By: Claudia Looi

What your English teacher taught you about writing can hurt your blog posts. An A plus score from your English teacher may not have the same rating with your readers. Your readers will click away if your brilliant diction is too ‘dazzling’ for a busy person. Imagine if for each paragraph you needed to type words into dictionary.com to find out what it means!

Most readers are just scanning information online. They are looking for quick useful information that they can get quickly and easily.

One of the first things we learn as copywriters is the FK score. What is FK?

According to AWAI, FK or Flesch Kincaid is a statistical program that measures the simplicity of writing. It’s a quick way to find out how easy or difficult it is to understand the writer.

Here are a few factors that FK uses to determine the score:
• The average number of words per sentence
• The average number of letters per word
• And the frequency of passive and complex constructions

Look at two examples of Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level below.

The paragraph below has a Flesch Kincaid score of 12.0:

1

The whole family was sick when we visited them lately in the jungle of Borneo. They have been living in the jungle with the Penan tribe for over ten years and Michael has been writing to Jon about the strange insects that have been invading their rooms for nights on end. Dr. Iman just called and delivered the bad news about Heidi has Japanese encephalitis, a severe viral infection of the brain. She had refused to get the immunization when the whole family had theirs a few months ago and will definitely need a miracle from a miracle doctor to help her survived through this calamity. The wet humid rural area of Southeast Asia has been known to have all types of mosquito ranging from those that cause Malaria, Dengue and now the Japanese encephalitis.

By breaking the paragraph into three paragraphs and making some of the sentences shorter, we managed to lower the score to 7.9:

2

The whole family was sick when we visited them lately in the jungle of Borneo. They have been living in the jungle with the Penan tribe for over ten years. Michael has been writing to Jon about the strange insects that have been invading their rooms at night.

Dr. Iman just called and delivered the bad news. Heidi has Japanese encephalitis, a severe viral infection of the brain. She had refused to get the immunization when the whole family had theirs a few months ago. A miracle needs to happen from a miracle doctor to help her survived through this calamity.

The wet humid rural area of Southeast Asia has been known to have all types of mosquito, ranging from those that cause Malaria, Dengue and now the Japanese encephalitis.

Average Americans read at Flesch Kincaid score of 8. Huffington Post reported that most high school students today read at FK5.

Would you be surprised with the following Flesch-Kincaid score?

Gone with the Wind – FK 7
To Kill a Mockingbird – FK 5.9
Lord of the Flies – FK 4.5
For Whom the Bell Tolls – FK 3.1
The Road (2007 Pulitzer Prize winner) – FK3.4
(Source: AWAI’s Flesch-Kincaid:The Secret Weapon of the World’s Greatest Copywriters)

Michael Masterson said that simple writing is more believable than complex writing. And more believable writing is more successful writing.

I strive to write below FK7.0 and average about FK6.5 for most of my writing.

Have you set up your FK score? Here are tips to set up Flesch-Kincaid Score in MS Word on a MacBook?

Click on Word
Click on Preferences
Click on Spelling and Grammar
Check Show readability statistics
Click OK

When you finish spelling and grammar check, readability statistics will show the FK Score.

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