Here’s a quick tip for you today on using Microsoft Word to check how easy it is for your supporters to read your communications.

Word has the ability to let you know your Flesch Reading Ease score and your Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level. You just have to turn it on!

Wait, what?

The Flesch Reading Ease score and the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level are readability tests that let you know if your copy is easy to read or not. If you are interested in how exactly they do this, you can check out this Wiki entry, but all you really need to know is what the scores mean.

With the Flesch Reading Ease score, the higher the score on your copy, the easier your work is to read. You want to shoot for around 60 and above.

The Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level is just that – it gives you the level of education someone would need to understand your work. A sixth grade level is recommended by most copywriting experts.

Yes, yes, if you are talking to a group of PhDs then you can probably up your grade level, but remember:

These scores are not about how smart your reader is.
They are about how easy it is to read your work.

And no, you are not “dumbing down” your work by adhering to these scores.

Your average supporter can be college educated and have a great grasp on the English language, but she probably still doesn’t want to think too hard when reading about your organization.

Make it too hard for them to read at a glance and you are risking them trashing it without a second thought.

Both Erica Mills of Claxon Marketing and Tom Ahern of Ahern Donor Communications use these scores when reviewing your work during our coaching webinars.

Here’s how you can see for yourself:

Open Word and click on “File” then select “Options”


 When the “options’ box opens, select “Proofing”


Then check the box that says “Show readability statistics.”

Now to find your scores, run the Spelling and Grammar check. Once that is finished, you will see your readability stats.

Here are the stats for this post:


Were you already using these stats? What are your average scores?

(If you know how to turn these statistics on in other word processing programs, let us know in the comments.)

Published On: June 27, 2014|Categories: Communications Channel Management, Writing Skills and Content|