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The Readability Tool: Why You Should Write Like an 8th Grader

Award-winning writer Kathy Widenhouse has helped hundreds of nonprofits and writers produce successful content and has gained 600K+ views for her writing tutorials. She is the author of 9 books. See more of Kathy’s content here.

An online devotional for writers

A Word From The Word

When I first came to you, dear brothers and sisters, I didn’t use lofty words. (1 Corinthians 2:1, NLT)

A Word For Writers

 If you use a readability tool when you write content, you can get and keep more readers.

The Readability Tool: a #devotional for writers with Word Wise at Nonprofit Copywriter #FreelanceWriting #ChristianWriting #ContentWritingTips

73% adult Americans read at only a basic or intermediate level. That’s equivalent to what can 8th graders are expected to read, according to the National Assessment of Adult Literacy.

Even those with more advanced reading skills respond better to content written at an 8th grade level or lower. Simpler content doesn’t mean simplistic ideas. It’s just is easier to read. 

Practically speaking, if you write at high school level, you may be missing out on reaching readers. 

There is an easy, measurable way you can check your content’s readability. Use the Flesch-Kincaid Readability Tool. It calculates your content’s readability according to the average U.S. student’s reading ability. For example, a score of 8.1 indicates a reading ability of a student who is in the first month of the 8th grade.

The Apostle Paul understood this principle. He was careful to use simple language when he first shared about Jesus with the people of Corinth. "I didn't use lofty words," he said, but worked to be understandable.

You can do so, too. 

Make your content easier to read with just a few simple edits, say the readability tool gurus. Just use shorter words and shorter sentences.

A Wise Word

Use short words and sentences for more readable content.

A Word To Pray

Loving Father,

Thank you for the gift of language. Your truths have depth. Let me communicate them in clear and simple ways so people can understand.

In Jesus’s name, Amen.

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