What Is Readability
A writer’s best-kept secret is readability. Readability is the practice of effective communication. To use transparent communication that is accessible to the most general audience. Why does it work? Readability works well for a variety of subjects because it produces digestible content. In 2010, the average reader had an attention span of 12 seconds. By 2021, that attention span has shortened to 7 seconds.
Most people are busy and do not have the time or the patience to read long complex sentences. They want content that is clear and to the point. For example, if a reader is searching on “how to learn Chinese”, they can come across two different search results. One search result is: “The study of Chinese language is a complicated undertaking that takes into consideration the nuances of Chinese characters and how to read them. Chinese tautology has a rich cultural meaning underpinning the semantic context”. That sounds confusing and the reader must overly exert themselves to process the context. Another search result can be: “The Chinese language is a hard language for new students to study. Because of the Chinese culture and characters, there’s a lot to understanding it.” The message has clarity and brevity and gives the reader exactly what they were looking for.
How To Improve Readability
1. Use Plain Language
Plain language improves readability because it is concise and to the point. It does not rely on jargon or complex sentence structure to communicate. Federal agencies are mandated to use plain language as well as some businesses prefer to use it. Research has found that the average American reads at an 8th-grade level. Using plain language ensures that the content is accessible to the widest audience.
2. One Idea Per Sentence, One Idea Per Paragraph
Short sentences and focused paragraphs increase readability. A good rule to follow is to use one idea per sentence and one idea per paragraph. It is a good practice to start the paragraph with the main idea and follow
with the details. This ensures that the right message is communicated to the reader, and they do not get lost in long-winded sentences.
3. Leave Out The Adjectives And Adverbs
Adjectives and adverbs have a place when it comes to expository and creative writing. However, for writing that relies on plain language and focuses on readability, a writer should omit them. Adjectives and adverbs provide nuance and descriptions to verbs and nouns in some writing formats. But readability is about precision in communication which leaves little room for interpretation. A writer can increase readability by sticking to an active voice and omitting adjectives and adverbs.
4. Use A Readability Tool
To improve readability, a writer must have good writing habits. But sometimes even professional writers need extra help. By using a readability tool, such as offered by the Content Analytics Platform (CAP) by Scion Analytics, a writer can automatically assess and improve the readability level of content.
Readability makes good writing great and accessible to the reader. A writer should always strive to improve readability for a better experience for the reader.