Readability is a quality of reading ease in your writing. It tells you how clear and accessible your writing is to read. Find out what a readability score is and how you can use it. 

What is readability?

Readability is a measure of how easy a piece of text is to read.

The level of complexity of the text, its familiarity, legibility and typography all feed into how readable your text is.

Readability is a key factor in user experience. Accessible content builds trust with your audience.

Why is readability important? 

Readability is partly important because Google considers it a key ranking factor. This is based on human behaviour on websites. If the average person finds website content too difficult to read, they’ll click elsewhere. Google loves readability because it improves UX. Content which is easier to understand will be easier to navigate. This will encourage readers to stay on your page. Which, in turn, improves bounce rates.

It is also important for search because of the rise of AI home assistants. The increase in voice search is defining how users search for information. It is making it more conversational. People are now more likely to frame their Google search as a question. This means anticipating what the questions about a topic may be. Then you can answer them within your content in a way that’s simple and easy to understand.

What is a readability score? 

A readability score can tell you what level of education someone will need to be able to read a piece of text easily. The score identifies a grade level approximate to the number of years of education a person has had.

The most widely used is Flesch Kincaid. An FK score of around 8 is roughly equivalent to a reading level of US grade 8 - ages 13-14. To reach the widest audience, we recommend aiming for a Flesch Kincaid grade between 8 and 10. 

When using more specialist formulas, the grade you should aim for may vary. To help define your goals, see our overview of each formula, its best use, and ideal score. 

What is a good readability score? 

A good score to work for, for the public, is a Flesch Kincaid grade level of 8. This is adequate for 85% of the public to easily understand. The simplest way to check your writing is accessible is to check:

  • Your Readable letter grade 
  • Your Reach score 

Ideally, your writing should be a Readable grade A with 100% Reach. 

For grade levels, the score corresponds to the USA education system. A grade level of around 10-12 is roughly the reading level on completion of high school. Text aimed at the public should aim for a grade level of around 8. That will ensure your text is readable by roughly 85% of the public. Popular fiction rarely scores above grade level 6.

It's worth noting that even if you are writing for a highly educated audience, a lower score is still preferred. Particularly in business writing. Highly proficient readers still prefer the time saved by plain English.

What is a good score depends on your audience:

  • If you are writing for children, aim for their specific grade level or lower.
  • If you are writing a future bestselling novel, aim for a grade level of 6 or lower.
  • If you are writing for the general public, aim for a grade level of 8 or lower.
  • If you are writing for a graduate audience, aim for a grade level of 10 or lower.
  • If you are writing for a postgraduate audience, aim for a grade level of 12 or lower.

It's worth noting that even if you are writing for a highly educated audience, a lower score is still preferred. Particularly in business writing, people highly proficient in reading still prefer the time saved by plain English.

How you can use readability scores in your writing 

The best way to use readability scores in your writing is to use a comprehensive tool with clear results. This will give you a holistic view of your writing and provide clear suggestions for action. When looking at isolated readability grades, it can be difficult to know the next step. Readable gives you more helpful feedback. So you can edit with confidence. 

You can use readability scores to improve:

  • How easy your content is to read
  • The quality of your content
  • How you connect with your audience 

Individual formulas within our offering can help you target specific audiences. 

Readable goes further than any other readability checker. As well as readability, you can check for: 

  • Originality with our cliché count
  • Sentiment with our tone analysis 
  • Relevancy with our keyword density tool 
  • A host of other checkers, which you can see in our full feature list

How to improve your readability score

You can start to improve your readability score by taking some of these actions:

readability checklist | Readable, free readability test for content reach and SEO

Readable makes it clear how to improve your content. We highlight all readability issues. We give you useful guidance on what to improve and how to improve accessibility. Including clickable synonym suggestions for difficult words. This takes the guesswork out of editing and proofreading.

Give our free demo a try today and get a taste of the extensive feedback we have to offer.

Laura Kelly

Laura is a Marketing Executive at Readable. She loves coffee, literature, weightlifting and film photography.