10 Tips to Improve Your Readability Score

Photo of author

Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

Want to boost your SEO rankings or increase engagement rates on your content? A quick way to optimize your content is by improving its readability.

Knowing your readability score gives you an idea if you’re correctly conveying your message to readers. Learn these ten tips to improve your readability score to make your text clearer and more understandable.

What is Readability?

Content readability basically means the ability of your text to communicate clearly. It ensures that your sentences and paragraphs use the correct elements, including length, diction, and complexity.

Making your digital content readable also means your target audience will interact better with your content. It’s a natural part of content management that helps you increase your SEO rankings.

The key to making your text readable is always to keep your audience in mind. Not all readers have the same time and level of intelligence as you. For example:

  • Instead of saying, “One must emphasize the necessity to offer copious documentation,”
  • You can say, “You should insist these learners support their ideas.”

How do You Improve Your Readability Score on Grammarly?

Online tools like Grammarly can help you produce more compelling content that is easy to understand. Grammarly’s readability score doesn’t precisely state their method for readability measurement. But there are some ways to help you improve your writing.

One of the many writing attributes to consider is the length of your sentence. Make your content readable by avoiding long sentences or run-on sentences.

Too many complex and overused words is also a sign of poor readability. Chunk complex sentences into separate sentences to prevent your readers from experiencing difficulty.

Grammarly also recommends using the active voice when writing. Avoiding the passive voice will make your ideas more straightforward and concise. 

Here are some features of Grammarly Premium that will increase your readability score:

  • Word choice suggestions.
  • Tone suggestions.
  • Advanced writing suggestions.
  • Clarity-focused sentence rewrites.
  • Formality level suggestions.
  • Engagement suggestions.

Also, check out Hemingway App to improve readability.

Does Readability Affect SEO?

The readability of your content piece is both a direct and indirect factor for search engine optimization. It gives you more digestible and accessible content with better reader retention and conversion.

BJ Fogg’s behavior model tells us that motivation and ability affect a user’s behavior. In the context of blog post content and other digital posts, readability influences these two elements. It tells us that content should be understandable and easy to navigate.

Your content strategy should always include easy-to-understand sentences for the average reader to influence their motivation. Avoid bulky paragraphs and complicated stories to persuade them to continue reading.

The second step to content marketing is having good formatting and common writing styles. This stage helps them navigate the information you’re offering.

What Do Flesch-Kincaid Scores Mean?

The Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level is one of the most popular readability formulas that analyze the literacy levels of your content. This readability formula uses grade levels to measure whether you’re writing complicated content or not. Here’s what the readability level tells you:

  • 6th grade with an 80-90 score: Easy to read or conversational English.
  • 7th grade with a 70-80 score: Fairly readable.
  • 8th and 9th grade with 60-70 score: Plain English.
  • 10th to 12th grade with 50-60 score: difficult to read. 

The Flesch-Kincaid guidelines also have a scale of 1-100 that measures your content for readability. Here’s what each readability level means

  • <30: your text is very confusing. 
  • 30-49: difficult.
  • 50-59: fairly difficult.
  • 60-69 standard.
  • 70-79: fairly easy.
  • 80-89: easy.
  • 90-100: very easy.

Aim for a Flesch-Kincaid score of 60 or higher or a school level of 8th or 9th-grade reading level. But the higher the score, the more readable it is. 

How to Calculate Readability Score

The main idea behind the Flesch-Kincaid formula is that concise writing is effective writing. It will increase your engagement rates and conversion rate. Two factors influence the Flesch-Kincaid formula:

  • Shorter words are more understandable.
  • Shorter sentences are more understandable.

But the mathematical equation is more complicated than you think. This reading score analysis tool also considers your syllable count over the total words. 

You can see your readability scores on WordPress through Yoast SEO. It has Flesch-Kincaid as one of the assessments. 

A drop in readability scores means your writing has tons of syllables, long words, and long sentences. You probably also have chunky paragraphs.

How to Improve Flesch Reading Ease Score

Producing readable content matters if you want your target audience to engage with your blog posts, drive more traffic, and increase sales. Here are some ways content writers can improve their Flesch Reading Ease Scores.

1. Use Short, Easy Words

Using short and basic words in your content helps in creating simple sentences. Make sure each character count helps in adding meaning to your thoughts.

Pick 2-syllable words over their 4-syllable synonyms if it works just as well. Avoid terms that are hard to spell and pronounce, like “chiaroscurist” or “apparent.”

Another way to use easy words is through simpler words that everyone knows. Remember that not everyone has the same vocabulary as you. And not everyone carries a dictionary in their bags. 

Your exit rates will instantly spike if you use “petrichor” or “inordinate” in your blog posts. Try a more basic word like “aroma” or “excessive,” especially if you’re not doing creative writing. 

These words will save your readers more time comprehending your work. It also makes it easier to reach the call to action.

2. Shorten Your Sentences

Digital marketers know that scannable paragraphs in blog post writing are more acceptable to people. Shortening your sentences doesn’t only involve limiting the word count. It also involves avoiding squinting modifiers and using the active voice. 

Keeping your sentences short corrects convoluted sentences. Try breaking them into many short sentences by focusing on “one idea per sentence” instead of joining them with conjunctions.

Does every word in your sentence contribute to your sentence’s meaning? Your main point should be clear and supported by rich details for a more concise message. 

Another way to shorten your sentences is by removing redundant words. Avoid saying, “In my opinion, I think” and say, “I think.” Remove fluff words like “totally” and “actually.”

3. Get Rid of Some Adjectives and Adverbs

Adjectives and adverbs are also called modifiers because they change the meaning of your noun, verb, adjectives, and fellow adverbs. They add a description to words to avoid boring content. 

For example, “working student” is different from a “student” because of the modifier “working.” However, “very sorry” doesn’t make much difference compared to “sorry.”

Improve your grade-level score by cutting the unnecessary adjectives and adverbs. Help your audiences understand your crisp content by going straight to the point. Good dialogue should use stronger verbs instead of adding “-ly” adverbs.

Another example that will transform your average sentence is to say “starving” instead of “extremely hungry.” The word “starving” is shorter yet stronger. Many people also know the word’s meaning compared to “ravenous” or “famished.”

4. Drop the Jargon

Readable writing considers the fact that real people are reading your text. Most occupations use a specific language that the general public doesn’t use. 

If you’re in the field of law, an average law book would include words like “constitution,” “statute,” and “ordinance.” Law students and lawyers might understand these words, but ordinary readers wouldn’t.

Make your content accessible to your dedicated readers by replacing insider jargon. The following replacements will make your content writing smoother and your reading levels better: 

  • Axiomatic – goes without saying.
  • Disburse – pay out.
  • Afford an opportunity – allow.
  • As a means of – to.
  • Bestow – give.
  • Constitutes – forms.
  • Domiciled – living.
  • Parameters – boundaries.

5. Use Reader-Friendly Fonts

Readability goes beyond the content of your words, sentences, and paragraphs. You also need to consider the appearance of your content, even if it’s not part of the mathematical formula for readability scores.

Avoid “fancy” or “handwritten” fonts like Papyrus, cursive, and Jokerman to make your writing look more attractive. They will only make the readers’ eye movements more difficult.

Any bestselling book only uses the following font styles:

  • Arial.
  • Times New Roman.
  • Helvetica.
  • Open Sans.

I also recommend using these fonts on your blog, social media, and text messaging applications. 

Remember that a sans serif font isn’t necessarily more readable than serif fonts. Some serif fonts are hard to read because of their unnatural strokes, increasing letter confusion among the audience.

6. Break Up Your Copy

Breaking up your content into sections means dividing it into several readable paragraphs to produce effective content. A piece of content consisting of many paragraphs is also a common element of a successful blog post.

Readers follow each line more quickly as they divide their thoughts into the same chunks. Meanwhile, a long paragraph will confuse your poor readers. It also looks longer and more boring to read at first glance. 

One way to break up your copy is by writing content with headings. They are an essential component of the readability formula that serves as signposts for readers to know what they are reading. Headings also allow search engines to understand your text and give pointers.

A typical reader checks content in seconds to get a complete idea of the whole post. Then, they decide on the sections they will read.

7. Test Your Writing Using Readability Formulas, and Aim for Grade Level 7 or 8

An 8th-grade reading level is the default level you should go for when writing. That means making your English-language content more understandable to the broader readership rather than a targeted group.

Aside from the Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease and Grade Level, you can also try other formulas. Like the Gunning-Fog Score. This formula concentrates on complex words, proper nouns, compound words, and jargon.

The Coleman-Liau Index looks at the letter count instead of the actual syllables and words. But the results still show themselves as grade levels.

The Automated Readability Index also considers your character count and words per sentence. It uses a grade-level score, with seven or eight being recommended.

You can also try the SMOG Index, which stands for “Simple Measure of Gobbledygook.” It only uses 30 sentences from your content or ten in the beginning, middle, and end. 

8. Use Punctuation

The goal of punctuation marks is to help readers understand what you are trying to say. Whether you’re using a semi-colon, period, or an em dash, all punctuations should aid in achieving that goal. 

Avoid unnecessary dashes and quotation marks on your blog content as they make your character count longer. If you are not quoting something or someone, there’s no need to use these marks. 

It would help if you also avoided run-on blocks of text by using commas to break the sentence. For example, “I tried talking to her, but she refused, so I stopped messaging” seems too lengthy. Read the sentence aloud and consider where the pause should go.

9. Organize Your Ideas

Using organized writing will save you and your readers more time and energy, so I recommend starting with a mind map. Break a topic down into sub-topics, potential list items, and other relevant ideas.

One organizational pattern that makes your writing more readable is a sequence. It’s applicable when telling a story or relaying events in chronological order. You may also organize according to importance, cause and effect, and comparison. 

When comparing two ideas or objects, describe them in their entirety based on standard features. You can also focus on the features themselves one by one.

10. Try Personal Language

If you’re a copywriter or digital marketer, you know that personal language sounds more accessible, friendly, and convincing. 

Don’t shy away from using personal pronouns like “I” and “you” when reaching out to your audience. At the same time, you should avoid third-person pronouns as they sound more unreachable and intimidating.

Readability is Key

You might think that readability is all about simplifying your work to the point that it lacks personality. But aside from shortening your words, readability also involves using personal language, fixing sentence structures, and employing proper formatting.

Practice the ten tips on all your content pieces and notice a massive difference in your engagement! 

How do you make your readability score higher? Share your tips in the comments!