How Easy is it to Understand your Plain Language Form

An early step in the evaluation of your forms should be to calculate the readability based upon the Flesch-Kincaid readability tests.  Wikipedia has an excellent article on the Flesch-Kincaid readability tests.

But how do you calculate these numbers?  Microsoft Word can calculate these values for you automatically.  The analysis occurs when you review a document for spelling and grammar mistakes.  At the conclusion of the analysis, you are given the Flesch-Kincaid grade level and the Flesch reading ease score.

In Word 2002, you click on “Tools”, “Option” and then the “Spelling and Grammar” tab.  Under the “Grammar” section, check “Show Readability Statistics”.  In Word 2007, select the “Review” tab on the main ribbon, then click “Spelling and Grammar”.  In the pop-up box select “Options” on the lower left of the dialog box.  In the dialog box that appears next, click “Show readability statistics” under “When correcting spelling and grammar in Word”.

Once you have indicated that you want readability statistics, you must then review your document for spelling and grammar.  At the conclusion of the spelling and grammar check, a dialog box will appear which gives you the readability statistics.

 You are aiming for a sixth grade reading level.  And just because you have attained a sixth grade reading level doesn’t automatically make your form clear and concise.

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