Write Web Copy At A 5th-Grade Reading Level

You can write at a 5th grade level without dumbing down your copy. Some of the best and most popular magazines and newspapers are written at grade-school levels to improve comprehension.  For example:

Readers prefer text written at a 5th or 6th grade level

Like leading publications, good web copy has high readability scores.

The bar graph to the right shows that the lower the grade level of the copy (green), the easier it is to read (pink).

Short words, short sentences and short paragraphs make copy easier to read and comprehend. It can also deliver a punch–take a look at Hemingway.

Readability formulas are based on

  • words per sentence
  • syllables per word.

The lower the number, the better.

How writing is scored for readability

Readability scoring criteria look at the number of:

  • sentences in the text.
  • words in the text.
  • words per  sentence.
  • syllables per word.

Testing bears out the reliability of these criteria. For many years I wrote copy for direct mail marketing campaigns. Direct marketers have tested every possible variable in a package. Here’s what produced higher response rates:

  1. Short, easy-to understand words
  2. Sentences no longer than a line or so (I aim for less than a line)
  3. Paragraphs no longer than 6 lines

Keep this in mind as you write copy for your website, blog, email and print promotion.

How to check the readability score for your copy

Use Microsoft Word

There are several websites you can use to check readability. Here’s one I like:  http://www.read-able.com/

By the way, this post is written at a 7th-grade readability level .

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