Simple is not straightforward

For a while now I’ve been encouraging my colleagues and peers at work to simplify their writing. The challenge is to aim for a reading age of 12. (We rarely meet this target.)

Some people think that it’s ‘dumbing down’; others think that a reading age of 12 is bordering on illiteracy; and others simply ignore me.

poohThe reality is that writing in a simple, clear manner is not an easy task.

Intriguingly, I find my writing for this blog meets my ‘age of 12’ rule most of the time, without much editing. At work, I fail miserably. I think that there are three main reasons for this:

  • we tend to use jargon
  • think that big words make us look clever
  • we don’t take the time to write simply

The benefits of writing as simply as possible include:

  • improving our ability to communicate with a wide range of people;
  • avoiding ambiguity in our written output;
  • clarifying our thinking and concentrating on the core message.

For your interest, this post has a reading age of 10.4 using the Flesch-Kincaid grade level.

For a wider range of formulae, you can use to check the reading score of your material. Be prepared, the results may disturb you.



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