Readability is an essential tool for copywriters. If readers can’t understand your copy, you can forget about making an impact. This is true across all industries and sectors.

Don’t fret; we’re here to help and have added a new algorithm to our readability scoring tool - the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. CEFR for short.

Originally developed as a tool for employers and educational bodies, CEFR evaluates language skills.

All well and good, but how can that help you as a content writer? CEFR gives marketers a clear picture of their contents readability level. Helping you talk to your audience in clear and effective ways.

The Dutch government used CEFR to score their content. This made them realise their material was at a too high a level for the majority of their population. Most people were not likely to fully understand what was being told to them.

That’s a lot of taxpayers money going to waste on content people don’t fully understand.

If they had used CEFR and readability best practice before writing their content, they would have:

  • saved time
  • spread their message more widely and clearly
  • had a much better return on investment

“As much as 40 percent of the total costs of managing all business transactions is caused by poor communications.

Today’s companies waste precious resources on email and websites that don’t reach their audience.”

— William H. DuBay

Readers understand very short, simple texts a single phrase at a time. They are picking up familiar names, words basic phrases and reread as required.Readers understand short, simple texts containing the highest frequency vocabulary.Readers understand straightforward factual and fictional texts on subjects related to their interest. They have a satisfactory level of comprehension.Read with a large degree of independence, adapting style and speed of reading to different texts and purposes.

They use appropriate reference sources and are active readers.

May experience some difficulty with uncommon words and phrases.Readers understand in detail lengthy, complex texts, whether or not it’s connected to their area of speciality.Readers understand and interpret critically virtually all forms of the written language. Including abstract, complex, or highly colloquial writing.

They understand a wide range of long and complex texts, appreciating subtle distinctions of style and implicit as well as explicit meaningThe underlying message with CEFR is one that is core to readability. Think of your target audience first. Then write content that is genuinely of use to them.

Use the CEFR scale to help focus your content on the correct people. In the diagram below, we see that content marketing has a natural fit on the CEFR scale.

“I never study style; all that I do is try to get the subject as clear as I can in my own head, and express it in the commonest language which occurs to me.”

— Charles Darwin

CEFR and readability is all about keeping it simple. Stick to your core message and say it as clearly as you can.

Test out your content today with our free URL tool and get your content up to speed.


Steve Linney

Steve Linney has been a marketer for the last twenty years, covering a diverse number of sectors. Including e-learning, the music industry, and corporate responsibility.