Want to see at a glance how your diction and syntax choices affect your prose's readability?
Professional editors often use readability formulas to gauge how well writers are meeting an audience's reading levels, and one of the most famous of readability formulas is Gunning's Fog Index.
It's premise is that the bigger the words you use and the more complex your sentences, the more difficult your prose will be to read. You may or may not agree with this premise, but Gunning's Fog Index is fun to use anyway. And it enables writers to do some good old-fashioned counting. Along the way, you will become more aware of the role of these two important stylistic factors.
Here are the steps:
One implication of the Fog Index becomes clear if we look at the two versions if the following memo. The first version has a fog index of between 16 and 17, which suggests that it's pitched to an audience of college graduates. The second version has a fog index of between 7 and 8. What if the audience to which the memo is being addressed consists of high-school graduates? Is there any reason for the higher level of complexity?
Since general safety conditions are one of the responsibilities you have within your department, we would appreciate your disseminating the following information.
In a recent inspection of all areas the most obvious hazard detected was the manner in which office equipment is placed or used in relation to personnel movement or traffic.
All personnel in your area should be made aware of possible Safety Hazards and take precautionary measures at all times so that a high "Safety Level" may be maintained.
Safety in your department is your responsibility. Please see that your people are made aware of hazards and that they take measures to prevent them.
A recent inspection revealed a chief hazard to be office equipment placed in the way of people moving about.