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.
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 readability-score.com to check the reading score of your material. Be prepared, the results may disturb you.