Is Your Writing Readable
Published: November 19, 2011
Updated: November 20, 2011
Do you write just to write or would you like people to read what you write? If you are writing on HubPages then I would assume that the later is true.
I decided to write this hub because I lately noticed a large number of hubs written as a single long paragraph. Although a writer may think that the correct way to write is to string everything together, this practice makes reading extremely difficult.
Academic writers attempt to limit paragraphs to between three and five sentences. A paragraph should contain a beginning, a main idea, and an ending. This minimum will meet the standards for a paragraph and increase the paragraph's readability. This paragraph, for instance, is only four sentences long.
An essay should contain at least five paragraphs. Informative articles or hubs should be constructed in essay fashion. A five paragraph essay is another writing standard. This form of essay should have a beginning paragraph, an ending paragraph, and three paragraphs in the middle to express the writer's ideas. You may notice that this paragraph is five sentences long.
Notice that the opening of this hub only contained two sentences. Although writing academically requires formatting paragraphs between three and five sentences, this is not academic writing. Isolated statements are sometimes permitted to highlight an idea. One target of readability is to keep the paragraphs short so the reader can easily follow the flow of the writing.
When paragraphs are too long, the reader can easily loose her place. She must then scan the paragraph to find the last thing she read to continue on. After moving through an article and getting lost a few times the average reader will move on to something else.
If you use the spelling checker in MS Word 2007 and above, the tool will report back certain statistics about what you wrote. I grabbed an article written as one long paragraph and ran the article through the spelling checker (always check the spelling on an article before posting that article) to gather a few statistics.
The spelling checker reported that the article contained 509 words contained in 23 paragraphs. The article is difficult to read because of the high number of sentences in the single paragraph. The check also reported an average word-length of 4.6 characters, which means that on average, the author did not fill the sentences with long words.
The checker also includes a section on reading ease. This contains a rating for the Flesch Reading Ease rating for checked text. The reading ease for the tested article rated at 55.3. According to the below scale, available from Readability Formulas, this article would rate as fairly difficult to read.
Flesch Readability Scale
90 - 100
80 - 89
70 - 79
60 - 69
50 - 59
30 - 49
0 - 29
The goal of a writer using this scale for an unknown audience would be a target between 60 and 80; the higher the number, the easier the text is to read. Since the article demonstrated a small average word-size, the fairly difficult rating must be attributed to the number of sentences in the paragraph.
The message is simple – write shorter paragraphs, run a spelling checker on text before publication, and aim for a high score on the Flesch scale if the spelling checker includes that rating.
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