IN the early to mid 1980s I worked for IT company as a software developer. I was also involved in the production of responses to invitations to tender. Plus the writing of support manuals for the various computer systems we developed.
For this reason I had to attend effective writing training courses. At the first course I attended I was given a copy of The Complete Plain Words. This is a book that was published in the 1950s and according to the internet has never been out of print since.
In addition I was introduced to something called the Fog Index (or Gunning Fog Index). This is a measure of how readable a piece of text is.
The other day I was looking at a Middlesbrough fanzine website and someone was asking for feedback on an article they had written. There were a lot of long sentences in the article. This made it difficult to understand. So I mentioned the Fog Index calculation to the author.
In looking on the internet I found the article here that in 2009 compared online stories from a number of UK newspaper sites. The author used the following indicators to assess how readable the stories were:
- Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease
- Flesch-Kincaid Grade level Score
- Gunning-Fog Index
- SMOG Index
- Coleman-Liau Index
- Automated Readability Index
The SMOG index was quite interesting to me as the nickname of Middlesbrough supporters is the smoggies.
I thought it might be interesting to take a few articles from the Olive Press site and run them through an online Fog Index calculator. When looking at the numbers below consider that according to Wikipedia:
“Texts for a wide audience generally need a fog index less than 12. Texts requiring near-universal understanding generally need an index less than 8”.
|James Bryce||Demonstrators clash with police in Malaga as general strike begins||14.22|
|Eloise Horsfield||Graceless ending for Marbella spa||15.33|
|Carolyn Emmett||Rio Carnival? It came close…||12.9|
|Paul Whitelock||Jack Frost in Andalucía||11.01|
|John Woodhead||Spring comes to Almerimar – but no green shoots of recovery?||10.95|