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How to check how readable your Microsoft Word document is

This week's series of tips will be focusing on handy little features for Microsoft Excel and Word. To see the previous tips, check our Tips index.

If you use difficult words, your documents will be difficult to read and understand. That's a fairly basic statement; fortunately, there have been several smart people who took this statement and created formulas that help you quickly see how readable your document is.

It turns out Microsoft Word can be made to show "readability statistics" using these formulas. This could help you write simpler, clearer text, and hit the level of comprehension you're trying to reach. Here's how to enable readability statistics in Word 2010:
  • Click the File tab, and then click Options
  • Click Proofing
  • Under When correcting spelling and grammar in Word, make sure Check grammar with spelling is selected.
  • Select Show readability statistics
(These instructions come from Microsoft's documentation, where you can find similar instructions for Outlook, too.)

Once readability statistics are enabled, run a spell check on your document. At the end of the spell check you'll get a new dialog with all sorts of interesting numbers, such as average sentences per paragraph, words per sentence, and characters per word. You will also get three different readability grades, which you can use to easily judge your document's level.

Tags: education, flesch-kincaid, keyboard, microsoft office, microsoft word, MicrosoftOffice, MicrosoftWord, office, readability, series, tips, windows, word