Assessing the readability of your content

Earlier this week Paul Boag wrote a good post on writing for the web. In it he recommends Hemingway App for checking the readability of your web content. I’m seconding that recommendation. This is a great tool for anyone who writes anything online.

You can paste in a section of content in and it will give you a readability score and a summary of the text. This includes the number of characters, words, sentences and paragraphs.

Perhaps more useful, particularly to those not confident with writing for the web, it also:

  • highlights sentences that are difficult or very difficult to read
  • identifies the use of the passive voice and adverbs
  • highlights complexity and suggests simpler words or phrases

The two images in this gallery show the content of this blog post in Hemingway App before and after editing:

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There are of course other tools out there that do a similar job. On this blog I have Jetpack installed which uses After the Deadline to check spelling and grammar. It works in a similar way to Hemingway App by highlighting complex sentences and the passive voice. Obviously the fact that it’s built in to the publishing process is a major advantage.

We’re looking at moving all our web content into a new CMS and beginning to produce a list of requirements. I’ll definitely add this kind of readability checking functionality to the list.