9 Practical Strategies for Improving Readability

Learn what is readability score, how to identify along with practical tips for improving readability of your content.

By:   Katie Piper, Published on: 2024-01-10, Last Updated: 05-04-24

Reviewed by: Allison Hott

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Improving the readability of your written content is important nowadays. People don't have much time, and there's a lot of information everywhere. According to a study by the Nielsen Norman Group, the average person spends only 20 seconds on a web page before deciding whether to stay or leave. This highlights the importance of creating content that is easy to read and understand, ensuring that your message is effectively conveyed to your audience.

Readability is a measure of how easy it is for a reader to understand a given text. It takes into account factors such as sentence length, word complexity, and the overall structure of the content. The higher the readability score, the easier the text is to understand. Many tools and formulas exist to calculate readability scores, but understanding how to improve readability scores through better writing techniques is key.

In this article, we will explore nine practical strategies for enhancing the readability of your writing, helping you create content that is not only informative but also engaging and accessible to a wider audience.

Readability Formulas to Increase the Readability Score 

Ensuring your content has a high readability score is crucial for effective communication. One key aspect of improving readability is understanding how to increase the readability score using established formulas. This section will briefly discuss some of the most widely used readability formulas.

Studies show that pieces with a higher readability score get 36% more engagement. The Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level and Gunning Fog Index are two popular formulas that can help you achieve this.

  • Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level formula

The Flesch-Kincaid formula primarily takes into account the average number of words per sentence and the average number of syllables per word. The formula involves a mathematical equation that takes into account these two factors.

The output is a numerical score, which corresponds to a U.S. school grade level.

For example, a score of 8.7 would mean the text is readable by an average 8th grader.

  • Gunning Fog Index

It considers average sentence length and the percentage of words with three or more syllables. Gunning fog Index formula takes these factors into account, emphasizing longer words as potential barriers to readability. Like the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level Formula, the output is a numerical score that corresponds to a U.S. school grade level.

For instance, a score of 10.5 would suggest a readability level typical of a 10th grader. 

Increasing Readability By Adjusting Text For Audience

Optimizing readability means adapting your writing to your audience's reading level and background knowledge. Research shows materials written at an appropriate level increase comprehension by up to 35%. 

For a general audience, aim for a 6th-8th grade reading level with clear language.

When you're writing for experts, it's okay to use more advanced words, but keep them short and clear. Don't use complicated jargon that might confuse your readers. One study found that using common terms in patient instructions improved health outcomes by 38%.

Think about how your audience reads, too. If it's online, break up the text so it's easy to scan. Use examples and comparisons to help explain things; comparisons can make learning twice as effective. 

9 Practical Strategies for Improving Readability

Here are nine practical strategies to enhance readability:

1. Use Clear and Concise Language

Choose simple and straightforward language over complex or technical terms. Avoid unnecessary jargon that may confuse your audience. Consider utilizing a reword tool to simplify your writing while keeping the main idea if you frequently use overly complicated sentences or technical jargon.

2. Organize Content Effectively

Use a logical structure with clear headings and subheadings. Break down information into manageable chunks, using paragraphs and bullet points.

3. Maintain Consistent Formatting

Stick to a consistent font style and size throughout your document. Use a readable font, such as Arial, Calibri, or Times New Roman. Ensure proper spacing between lines and paragraphs.

4. Prioritize Important Information

Place key information at the beginning or end of paragraphs and sections. Use formatting techniques like bold or italics to emphasize important points.

5. Include Visual Elements

Use relevant images, charts, and graphs to supplement the text. Ensure the visuals are clear, labeled, and directly support the content.

6. Limit Sentence and Paragraph Length

Keep sentences and paragraphs short to improve readability. Try to keep your sentences between 15 and 20 words on average. Break up long paragraphs into smaller, more focused segments.

7. Create a Conversational Tone

Write in a conversational style to engage readers. Address the audience directly, using "you" and "we" when appropriate.

8. Provide Clear Transitions

Use transition words and phrases to guide readers through your content. There is a clear shift in signals between concepts, points, or sections.

9. Test Readability

Checking the readability of your text is crucial for making it reader-friendly. The reviewing strategy enables you to analyze text on various factors such as sentence length, word complexity, and syntax to provide scores and grade-level ratings.

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Enhancing the readability of your content is paramount for effective communication these days. By implementing practical strategies such as using clear language, organizing content effectively, and incorporating visual elements, you can significantly improve your readability score. Modifying your writing to the audience's reading level and conducting readability tests further ensures that your message is accessible and engaging, ultimately maximizing audience comprehension and retention.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you increase content readability?

To increase content readability, consider using clear and concise language, breaking up text with headings and subheadings, incorporating bullet points and numbered lists, and ensuring a logical flow of ideas.

What enhances readability?

Enhance readability by using a readable font and appropriate font size, maintaining consistent formatting, and incorporating white space to reduce visual clutter. 

Why is my readability score so low?

A low readability score may result from complex sentence structures, jargon, or dense paragraphs. To improve, simplify language, break down complex ideas, and consider using tools like readability checkers to gauge and enhance the accessibility of your content.