Readability refers to certain qualities of written text, with respect to being legible/decipherable and/or easy/enjoyable to read. A comprehensive definition of readability, although referring to printed materials it is still applicable to text in any format, has been given by Edgar Dale and Jeanne Chall (1949):
“The sum total (including all the interactions) of all those elements within a given piece of printed material that affect the success a group of readers have with it. The success is the extent to which they understand it, read it at an optimal speed, and find it interesting.”
When designing a website or trying to share/convey information in written format, it is important to make sure that the presentation style (e.g. length of sentences, grammar, difficulty of words) is not a barrier. On the other side, texts that are too easy to read may fail to engage the reader because they are boring.
Selected Readability References
- The Principles of Readability. Impact Information.
- DyBay, W.H., (2004). Url: http://www.impact-information.com/impactinfo/readability02.pdf
- Writing for Every Reader.
- Hobson, S. – Url: https://www.slideshare.net/stephaniehobson/writing-for-every-reader
- Readable: What is Readability?
- – Url: https://readable.io/content/what-is-readability/
- Ultimate guide to blog readability.
- Barron, B. –Url: https://blogging.com/readability/
- Design guidelines for web readability. Proceedings of the 2017 Conference on Designing Interactive Systems,
- Miniukovich, A., De Angeli, A., Sulpizio, S., Venuti, P. (2017). pp. 285-296. Doi: 10.1145/3064663.3064711.
- Contextual web accessibility - maximizing the benefit of accessibility guidelines
- David Sloan, Andy Heath, Fraser Hamilton, Brian Kelly, Helen Petrie, Lawrie Phipps.
- Some guidelines for creating World Wide Web home page files
- Pieter A. van Brakel, Cerina Roeloffee, Amanda van Heerden.
- Web style guide
- Patrick J Lynch.
- Are guidelines enough? An introduction to designing Web sites accessible to older people
- S. Milne ; A. Dickinson ; A. Carmichael ; D. Sloan ; R. Eisma ; P. Gregor.
- USA.gov style guide
- SIGACCESS style guide
- Can readability formulas be used to successfully gauge difficulty of reading materials?
- Begeny, J.C., Greene, D.J. (2013). Psychology in the Schools, Wiley Periodicals. Doi: 10.1002/pits.21740.
- A comparison of features for automatic readability assessment.
- Feng, L., Jansche, M., Huenerfauth, M., Elhadad, N. (2010). Proceedings of the 23rd International Conference on Computational Linguistics, pp. 276-281.
Video explanation of readability:
Readability Score Tools
A readability score is a computer-calculated index indicating the level of education a reader should have in order to understand the written text being assessed. Readability scores, in addition to pointing out problems, are also providing tools to solve readability issues. A number of formulas are used to measure readability, some of them providing the output in the form of a score (e.g. Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease, Spache Score, New Dale-Chall Score) which needs to be interpreted, while some other provide directly the readability grade levels (e.g. Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level, Gunning-Fog Score, Coleman-Liau Index, SMOG Index, Automated Readability Index). Various free online tools have been implemented to automatically calculate readability and to analyze text clarity and content:
- Online Utility – Readability Calculator
- Readable – Measure Readability
- WebPageFX – Readability Test Tool
- Free Readability Calculators and Text Tools
- Juicy Studio Readability Test
- Text Context Analysis Tool
- LexiCool Text Analyzer
- Dairy Science Food Technology – Text Clarity
- Joes Web Tools – Readability Tests
- Visible Thread – Clarity Grader
- Using English – Text Content Analyzer
- Perry Marshall – Flesch Kincaid Grade Level Readability Test for Copywriters
- Datayze – Readability Analyzer
- The Writer – How readable is your writing?
- Hemingway App
- Yoast SEO plugin