Monday, March 14, 2011

Lindsey Learns... About Readability Statistics

So... usually Lindsey Learns, which I have been lax of late in even writing (oops), focuses on something I'm learning as I read.  This time I'm not featuring a book, though, just a nifty little feature in MS Word that I didn't know existed until now.  I'm not sure how useful or helpful it actually is, but it's interesting.

Put very simply, Word can sort of generally maybe figure out what reading level your writing is geared toward.  After it checks your document, it displays info about its readability, like so:

(That is from a short passage of my WiP) 18.2 words per sentence, really? Interesting.  Also interesting that the Grade Level it decided is 7.8.  Now, keep in mind, it's not scanning content here, it's looking at the average number of syllables per word and words per sentence.  So I'm not really sure how useful is in actually predicting what someone else would level your book grade-wise, but interesting nonetheless.  I'll have to try it again as my WiP grows in length.

Here's how you do it:

1. On the Tools menu, click Options, and then click the Spelling & Grammar tab.

2. Select the Check grammar with spelling check box.

3. Select the Show readability statistics check box, and then click OK.

4. On the Standard toolbar, click Spelling and Grammar .

5. When Microsoft Word finishes checking spelling and grammar, it displays information about the reading level of the document.

(I got that right from the Help section in MS Word)

Newer versions may need this from the actual

1.Click the Microsoft Office Button, and then click Word Options.

2.Click Proofing.

3.Make sure Check grammar with spelling is selected.

4.Under When correcting grammar in Word, select the Show readability statistics check box.

One thing to note: I kept trying it and wondering where the actual display was because I couldn't find it.  Turns out, you have to complete the spelling/grammar check (so follow the steps above to change the settings and then actually run the check - click through the "replaces" and "ignores" as you would if you were checking for real) and it shows up when the check is complete.  So I'm not sure how often I'd do this... but it's interesting.  One more Word feature discovered!  Sometimes I feel like Word is a game full of Easter eggs, KWIM?


Anne Gallagher said...

Lol, mine usually comes up with a reading level of 5.4. So I'm only as smart as a 5th grader!

April said...

I knew there were websites that could do that for you but didn't realize Word could. Pretty cool. Thanks for the info!

aspiring_x said...

@ anne- ha! mine only came up as 3.6- so you've got me beat! :)

very nifty trick danger.

Old Kitty said...

Thank you for these fabulous tips!! These will actually make me open up my much neglected wip of late!! LOL! Thank you!! Take care

Connie said...

Very interesting. I'm going to try it on my novel.

Colene Murphy said...

Oh interesting! I never paid much attention to anything but the word count on that thing!

Kristin Rae said...

hey that's pretty cool!! I write in Scrivener though, so I wonder if they have something like that.

0% passive sentences??? that's a miracle! i'm afraid to know how many i have... haha.

Gina W. said...

How fun!

Donea Lee said...

Cool - I didn't know about that either. So, I tried it out...ummm.. not sure I want to share the grade-level writing for the sample I checked... *shakes head* Thanks for the info, though!

Dangerous With a Pen said...

Craziness, huh? Word has so many wacky little features that no one knows about. Word is like its own treasure hunt. I want to be the Indiana Jones of Word. I want to be Michael Douglas in Romancing the Word.

As far as 0% passive sentences... I am kind of picky about that in my own writing, but also the text I sampled was less than a page long, so I can't say that will be true for all of it, lol. :)

Hmm... wonder what other little Word charms are hiding out there... :)

Jemi Fraser said...

Mine came out as 3.3 - my characters use a lot of 1 word sentences and the voice lends itself to short and snappy too, so I guessed I'm not surprised. Insulted maybe, but not surprised :) (kidding)

Hannah Kincade said...

Huh, never tried it. I shall now investigate the Word.

Talli Roland said...

Interesting! I didn't know about this. Thanks!