Teachers often wish to check the readability of a piece of writing. Edward Fry, formerly of the Rutgers University Reading Center, created one of the most widely used, and easy-to-use readability graphs for educators. Thanks go to McGraw-Hill for granting me permission to reproduce this information on the Web. (Taken from Fry, Edward. Elementary Reading Instruction. NY : McGraw Hill, 1977, p.217.)
The graphs (both grade level and ages) are large in size, but the file size is small because they are only in black and white. After you print them out, don't forget to print out the directions for use on this page!
You may also want to check out a great piece of software called Readability Plus (for both the PC or Mac) which includes the readability formulas for Dale-Chall, Fry, Flesch Grade Level, Flesch Reading Ease, FOG, SMOG, FORCAST, Powers-Somner-Kearl, and Spache. You can either import a text file, cut-and-paste into the entry box, or type the passages yourself.
In addition, here is another site which explains how to use the Gunning Fox Index. the Flesch Formula, and the Power Sumner Kearl formula to determine readability levels.
You can also check the readability level of a passage using the Klesch-Kincaid Reading Level built into the newer versions of Microsoft® Word. In Word XP, to display readability statistics...
- On the Tools menu, click Options, and click the Spelling & Grammar tab.
- Select the Show readability statistics check box, and then click OK.
- On the Tools menu, click Spelling and Grammar .
- When Microsoft® Word finishes checking spelling and grammar, it displays information about the reading level of the document.
- See #19 in this article for an explanation of the Flesch-Kincaid statistics.
Directions for Use of the Fry Readability Graph
- Randomly select three 100-word passages from a book or an article.
- Plot the average number of syllables and the average number of sentences per 100 words on the graph to determine the grade level of the material.
- Choose more passages per book if great variability is observed and conclude that the book has uneven readability.
- Few books will fall into the solid black area, but when they do, grade level scores are invalid.
Additional Directions for Working Readability Graph
- Randomly select three sample passages and count exactly 100 words beginning with the beginning of a sentence. Don't count numbers. Do count proper nouns.
- Count the number of sentences in the hundred words, estimating length of the fraction of the last sentence to the nearest 1/10th.
- Count the total number of syllables in the 100-word passage. If you don't have a hand counter available, an easy way is to simply put a mark above every syllable over one in each word, then, when you get to the end of the passage, count the number of marks and add 100.
- Enter graph with average sentence length and number of syllables; plot dot where the two lines intersect. Area where dot is plotted will give you the approximate grade level.
- If a great deal of variability is found, putting more sample counts into the average is desirable.
On to the graph.
©1995-2004 Kathleen Schrock. All rights reserved.