In a February 2016 Seattle Times article, a columnist analyzed parts of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s debate speech and concluded that he speaks to the American public as though they were fourth graders. The Seattle times columnist used the Flesch-Kincaid Readability Scale, which is available with many word processing programs and as an Internet download, to come up with the grade level equivalent. In Trump’s case, his choice of simpler, emotion-laden words appears to be working. According to the article, Trump is reaching a primal state of fear in his supporters with his word choices. He may speak like a fourth grader, but he knows exactly what he’s doing.
What is the Ideal Reading Ease Grade Level?
Writing at a grade level to reach the general public is not always an easy thing to do. Although there is disagreement among writing instructors, the consensus seems to be that people who produce both online and off-line documents should aim for a middle school level. This is sixth through eighth grade in most schools. Of the approximately 220 million adults in the United States and Canada, only half possess reading skills strong enough to understand almost anything they read. Roughly one-quarter fall into the category of non-readers with the other one-quarter considered limited skill readers.
Producing content at the middle school level enables you to connect with the highest number of people possible. That being said, you don’t want to deliberately dumb down your content like Trump. While he may have hit on something with his simplistic, fear-based campaign speeches, you’re in a completely different position. For one thing, you’re using the written word rather than the spoken word to represent your company or your client’s company. The last thing you want is for people to assume that you doubt their intelligence. That is why it pays to know the demographics of your audience.
Introducing our New Content Metrics Feature
Content Runner recently rolled out a new feature that can help you determine the reading level of all work that our writers submit to you. Once you have ordered some articles, you will notice three reading metrics on your client account. These include the Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease Scale, the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Scale, and the average number of syllables per word. The first metric is a percentage, such as 54.2, while the second displays a corresponding grade level. We also publish site-wide averages for all work submitted using our platform.
When you create an order for writers, you’re free to request a specific Flesch-Kincaid grade level for their completed work. Before submitting the assignment to you, the writer will need to run it through a word processing or online program that provides him or her with this information. You can then see the above details on our site once you retrieve the order from our system.
We encourage you to be as specific as possible when creating instructions to avoid frustration on both ends. For example, you can request that sentences and paragraphs be a specific length or that writers stick to simple language when possible. If your intended audience is highly educated and knows the specific terminology of your industry, be sure to mention that as well. We hope that you enjoy this new feature and that it makes it easier to publish content that will connect with website visitors and potential new customers.