Viewing document and readability statistics

Word 2016
Writing simple and easy to understand documents is a unique ability that lays somewhere between art and science. Word for Microsoft 365 can help you to improve your writing skills by providing readability statistic metrics.

To show the readability statistic, follow the next steps:

   1.   On the File tab, click the Options button:

Word 365 options

   2.   On the Proofing tab, under When correcting spelling and grammar in Word, make sure Check grammar with spelling is selected (see how to choose settings for checking Grammar):

grammar options in Word 365

   3.   Under When correcting spelling and grammar in Word, select the Show readability statistics checkbox.

After the grammar check is complete, Word displays a message box telling you that the checking is done:

  • For the General Agreement:
    Readability statistics in Word 365
  • For The Three Little Pigs fairy tail:
    Readability statistics in Word 365

Document statistics presented in this dialog box, include:

  • In the Counts area: the number of words, characters, paragraphs, and sentences in the document.
  • In the Averages area: the average number of sentences per paragraph, words per sentence, and characters per word.

The readability of a document is often measured in terms of a grade level, and various algorithms are used to estimate a document's ease of reading. The Readability Statistics dialog box includes the results of three such commonly accepted estimates. The readability estimates in Word consist of the following:

  • Flesch Reading Ease, or readability based on the average number of syllables per word and the average number of words per sentence. Standard writing averages 60 to 70 on a 100-point scale. The higherthe score, the more people can readily understand the document.
  • Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level, or readability based on the average number of syllables per word and the average number of words per sentence too, but this score indicates a school grade level. For example, a score of 6 means that a sixth-grader can understand the document. Standard writing is approximately the seventh- to eighth-grade level.
  • Passive Sentences presents the percentage of passive sentences in the document. A passive sentence is a sentence in which the subject does not perform the action of the verb. In fact, in a passive sentence, the action of the verb is done to the subject.

Active sentences present the form "A did B". Passive sentences have the form "B was made by A". It is generally accepted that active sentences are easier to read, and they are often more concise and direct. Therefore, the use of passive sentences should be avoided.

Note: There are some rules for writing different types of text: for scientists' documents, for typography books, for esses, etc. For example, some rules for Web writing:

  • The web page should contain less than 500 words for a general page or 700 words for a long page – the Words number of the Counts area.
  • The average number of words per sentence should be no higher than 15 - 20 words – the Words per Sentence number of the Averages area.
  • The number of words per paragraph should contain no greater than 40 - 70 words for general prose, or 30 - 50 words for a summary paragraph – the Sentence per Paragraph * Words per Sentence of the Averages area.
  • The Flesch Reading Ease score should be higher than 60%.
  • The Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level score should be:
    • 5 - 7 (for young readers),
    • 5 - 9 (for general readers),
    • 7 - 12 (industry or technical readers).
  • Passive Sentences percentage should be less than 15%.

See also this tip in French: Comment afficher les statistiques de lisibilité du document.

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