Writers’ Blokke
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Writers’ Blokke

The Fallacy Of Flesch Score

Your Readers Are Not 12 Year Old Students

Image By Simon From Pixabay

If you’re a content writer, you must have heard about Flesch score. In Wordpress, Yoas SEO is hell bent on making your articles adhere to a Flesch score of >60.

The Flesch score determines the readability of your writing. To measure the Flesch score of your article, you just have to take into account two things —

→How lengthy are the sentences in your article. In other words, the average word count per sentence.

→The average number of syllables per word

There are many online Flesch score checker available. You don’t need to manually fumble with the formula to check the Flesch Score of your article. However if you really need to know the underlying formula, here it is —

206.835–1.015 (total words/total sentence)-84.6 (Total syllables/total words)

What Do The Flesch Scores Mean?

A Flesch score of 1 means that the writing is extremely difficult to read. A Flesch score of 70, 80 or above means that the article is very easy to read.

Here’s a complete break-down -

A Flesch Score of-

  • 90 To 100 Means That An 11 year old can easily understand it.
  • 80 To 90 Means That The article is easy to read.
  • 70 To 80 Means That The article has a decent readability
  • 60 To 70 Means That Students of 13–15 years of age can easily understand it.
  • 50 To 60 Means That The article is to a certain extent difficult to read and understand.
  • 30 To 50 Means That The article is difficult to read and understand. (Best understood by college students.)
  • 10 To 30 Means That The article is very difficult to understand.
  • 0 To 10 Means That The article is extremely difficult to read and understand.

Note- Yoast SEO merges the 10 to 30 and 0 to 10 categories into one category.

Are Your Customers 13-Year Old Students?

If your content targets students, then having good Flesch score will obviously appeal to them. However, in case your potential buyers are adults who earn money and have jobs, rigidly making your article too simple to read might turn them off. What’s worse, they might think that the article has been written by a non-native English speaker.

See, it’s obviously good to keep your article easy to read. But in your urge of making it readable, don’t turn them into juvenile writing. Look at this excerpt taking from an article written by Dr Shashi Tharoor-

It is curious that there is, neither in India nor in Britain, any museum to the colonial experience. London is dotted with museums that reflect its imperial conquests, from the Imperial War Museum to the India collections at the Victoria and Albert Museum and the British Museum itself.

But none says anything about the colonial experience itself, the destruction of India’s textile industry and the depopulation of the great weaving centres of Bengal, the systematic collapse of shipbuilding, or the extinction of India’s fabled “wootz” steel.

Nor is there any memorial to the massacres of the Raj, from Delhi in 1857 to Amritsar in 1919, the deaths of 35 million Indians in totally unnecessary famines caused by British policy, or the “divide and rule” policy that culminated in the horrors of Partition in 1947 when the British made their shambolic and tragic Brexit from the subcontinent. The lack of such a museum is striking.

Surprisingly, large sections of both Indians and British still remain unaware of the extent of these imperial crimes against humanity.

What do you think about this write-up? Is it easy to read? Is it hard to read?

Any grown-up person would readily agree that the write-up is sufficiently easy to read. There are no difficult words, no obscenely long sentences. And when he did use long sentence, he organised it with proper punctuation. Yet the Flesch score of this article is 37 ! This indicates that the article is very difficult to read.

But that’s not the case. The article is meant to be read by the grown ups and that too- the erudite ones. Dr Tharoor crafted it keeping this in mind. If he made the article too easy, those erudite people would have lost interest.

Don’t Underestimate The Intellect Of Your Readers

In your urge to please a wide spectrum of readers, we fail to impress our core target audience. This is specifically true if you are writing B2B articles. The people in the business worked hard to increase their skills. They WANT other to take them seriously. Now if you as an article writer treat them as children and use simple sentences, your article won’t have an impact on their mind.

It’s time to unlearn those traditional content writing best practices. Keep the target audience in mind while writing. Don’t be afraid to write long, complex sentences if the article demands so. (Ironically, the Flesch score of this article is 63!)

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