Flesch Reading Ease

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Definition

The Flesch Reading Ease score is a quantitative measurement of how readable a piece of text is. This measurement is used by marketers and content writers to create content which is easier for their audience to read.

The readability score that is assigned to a piece of writing is a number from 0 to 100. The higher the number is, the more readable the piece of text is.

This score is often applied to online content such as blog posts, website copy, and promotional materials. Marketers aspire to achieve a high score as this indicates that the content is engaging, and ensures that the meaning they are attempting to convey is easy for customers to access.

The formula for the Flesch Reading Ease calculation was created by Rudolf Flesch in the 1940’s, as part of his efforts to make newspapers easier to read.

This score has also been developed into the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level, which applies this formula to ascertaining what age group a text can be read by. This addition to the calculation was made by J. Peter Kincaid.

Below, you can see a table which translates the score into a US school level, at which this reading level would be expected. The information comes from Rudolf Flesch’s text ‘How to Write Plain English’.

Flesch score US School Level
100-90 5th Grade
90-80 6th Grade
80-70 7th Grade
70-60 8th-9th Grade
60-50 10th-12th Grade
50-30 College Student
30-10 College Graduate
10-0 Professional

How to calculate a Flesch Reading Ease score

This score is calculated through the use of a mathematical formula.

The formula used is:

206.835 - 1.015 / (total number of words / total number of sentences) - 84.6 (total number of syllables / total number of words) 

The score that a piece of text receives is calculated by using two key values: the text’s average sentence length, and the average number of syllables in a word. The shorter these two values are, the easier the writing is to read. This is because long sentences that contain a large number of long, complex words require more effort to understand.

It is not necessary for you to use this formula to manually test the readability of your writing. Content creators can also determine this by using online tools, such as:

  • Microsoft Office (which has a Flesch Reading Ease score calculator built into the programme)
  • The Yoast SEO plugin feature
  • Websites such as, for example, Readability-Score and The Writer

What is a good Flesch Reading Ease score?

The higher the readability score is, the more readable the piece of text is. So, generally speaking, you should aim for the highest score possible.

A piece of content with a score of 60 is considered to be readable for the majority of adults. For online copy, you should aim for a score of at least 70. According to the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level, this score means that the writing can be read comfortably by someone at the reading level of a 13-15 year old.

However, what classifies as a ‘good’ score is largely dependent on the intended use of your content, and the intended audience. For example, an article that covers a more complicated topic will naturally have a lower readability score than a blog post.

To an extent, this should reflect the text’s purpose - as an article is designed to provide a more challenging read, whereas a blog post should not be a challenge to understand. However, for web-based content, a reading score of less than 60 indicates that the text can be written in a more accessible way.

How to improve your Flesch reading ease rating

Creating content that achieves a high reading ease score requires writers to produce succinct, engaging content that is written clearly.

This can be done by:

  • Keeping sentences short - for example, by breaking up one long sentence into two shorter ones.
  • Choosing shorter and simpler words to convey your meaning, where possible.
  • When editing, try to remove or alter the longest words in the content.
  • Using short paragraphs.
  • Breaking up long pieces of text with headings or subheadings.
  • Using the active voice and action words.
  • Comparing your content’s readability score with that of your competitors.

Importance‌ ‌for‌ ‌‌Online‌ ‌Marketing

Marketing content that is more readable translates to more engaging, easily accessible and enjoyable writing for your customers to read.

Creating readable content is especially important with online materials, as online shoppers typically have a low level of patience, and will make the decision to exit a site quickly if, for example, the content is not sufficiently attention-grabbing, or the site has a slow page speed.

This is important because attaining a higher score for your content means that you are more likely to attract a wider audience with this piece of content.

Furthermore, a high reading ease score is important for SEO rankings, too. This is because a good level of user experience will translate to a higher SERP position for a web page, as the page’s audience is engaged and so is more likely to remain on the web page for longer.

In addition, these trends indicate that viewers enjoy the content, and so they are more likely to return to it or recommend it.

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