20AprApril 20, 2015by Fergal McGovernin Content MarketingImprove Customer Engagement – Use Flesch-Kincaid Readability ScoresCopywriters, content marketers and online business owners know the power of words. However, truly getting to grips with and evaluating readability is something we often all overlook.We are often so preoccupied with keywords, character limits and visuals we forget to evaluate our copy. We forget to identify if our messaging and copy is readable and relevant to our audience.Evaluating content’s readability is key to ensuring customer engagement.Readability DefinitionWhat is readability? For us, ‘readability is a measure of how easily a reader understands a text.’ There are plenty more definitions out there but this is what we mean when we say readability.Now I am going to outline how to measure and improve readability.Flesch-Kincaid Readability TestsAs our customers know, Flesch-Kincaid readability tests are two of the most popular ways to evaluate the reading complexity of a text. They are designed to score the readability of content. The two tests are:Flesch-Reading Ease andFlesch-Kincaid Grade LevelReadability expert Rudolf Flesch created both tests. J. Peter Kincaid developed the latter test further for the US Navy. Both tests use the same basic measures: word length and sentence length, though they both give the measures different weighting.Flesch-Reading EaseThe Flesch-reading ease test scores content out of 100 based on its readability. A 12 year old could easily understand a score of 60 or above. University graduates best understand a score of 30 or below.The formula is calculated on the below: Recommended score: For online content to be easily read we recommend a score 60 or above. Use short sentences and simple words (less syllables the better) to improve your score.Below we can see using the VisibleThread Web tool the Hubspot Marketing Blog has scored a readability of 62. Good job!Flesch-Kincaid Grade LevelThe Flesch-Kincaid Grade level test calculates the required US school grade level a reader will require to understand a text. Research from the National Adult Literacy Survey found the average US adult reads at a 9th grade level. (NB 9th grade students are usually 14 years old.)So when writing content it’s important to write at a level readers will easily understand.Recommended score: Our recommended score for text to be easily understood is 9th grade level or below. Again use short sentences and simple words to get a good score.Below we can again see the Hubspot Marketing blog knocking it out of the park with a grade 8 score.I hope this helps explain readability and how to evaluate it. If you have any questions please leave a comment below.