What is the average reading level and what does this mean for your content? 

What does reading level mean? 

A reading level is the level of education the average person needs to be at to understand your content. These are calculated by a number of algorithms, the most widely used being the Flesch Kincaid Reading Level

It means that you can use tools to evaluate your content and match it to your audience’s comprehension needs. 

What is the average reading level?

According to an extensive study carried out every ten years, only the minority of Americans can read at a reading level of nine or above. 

In the UK, according to a recent study, as many as 7 million people have ‘very poor literacy skills’. Further, 43% of the US population has low literacy. This is markedly different from illiteracy. They are able to read, but they find it difficult. 

The average reader can fully comprehend a text with a reading grade level eight. So if your text has an eighth grade Flesch Kincaid level, your text is easy to read and accessible. The most readable web content reaches the widest audience. We recommend aiming for a Flesch Kincaid grade between 8 and 10. 

How will an eighth-grade reading level improve my content?

Any site that targets a wide audience should keep low-literacy users and the average reader in mind. These are just a few examples of readability’s invaluable use: 

  • Government bodies
  • e-Commerce sites 
  • Content marketers
  • Healthcare professionals
  • UX designers 

An eighth-grade Flesch Kincaid level in your content is useful because web accessibility is so important. To be inclusive of people with learning disabilities, a lower-secondary education must be assumed. 

It will also improve your content because online reading habits are so different from traditional reading habits. Web users are scanning content for the information they need. Especially if they’re coming from a search engine results page. 

What steps in my proofreading process can I take? 

A great place to start is with our readability checklist. 

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

Why not give a few of these steps a try with our demo. Readable subscribers can also enjoy website auditing, bulk uploading and more. Check out our plans page for more information.

Laura Kelly

Laura is a freelance writer and worked at Readable for a number of years. Laura is well-versed in optimising content for readability and Readable's suite of tools. She aims to write guides that help you make the most out of Readable.