5 Apr, 2012 @ 13:25
1 min read

Blog, fog and smog

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”.

Author Article Fog Index
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

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