Write better copy with a free readability check

Automator WorkflowWriting copy text that’s easy to read is, well, not easy. Especially Germans like me tend to build long nested sentences. Fortunately there are simple mechanical tools like, e.g., the Automated Readability Index. It counts the sentences, words, and letters in a text and returns an estimate on how difficult it is to read. The number it spits out correlates roughly to the US grade level.

To make it easier for myself to use the ARI in any context, I have wrapped it into an OS X service: Calculate Readability. Once installed you just select the text in question and call the service, either via the Services or the contextual menu. I have assigned it a convenient keyboard shortcut (^⌥⌘R), similar to this tip.

If you feel your texts could use a readability check, download the service here. It’s built with Automator and AppleScript, open-source, and free to use.

P.S. This text is readable for grade 9 or higher.


4 Responses to “Write better copy with a free readability check”

  1. Hi, does this work in German too?


  2. eboehnisch says:

    @ Rolf Schmolling: Not overly well. I have another one using the LIX algorithm but haven’t tested it extensively as I more often write English than German, at least for publication.

  3. aleftie says:

    Hi there,
    I assume it’s the same index as http://www.readabilityformulas.com/automated-readability-index.php, right?
    But I found that the result index (10.6 or 11) of the sample provided in the before mentioned article is different from the result index (6) from your workflow.
    I’m curious about the problem here.
    Thanks for this great workflow!

  4. eboehnisch says:

    @ aleftie: We checked the workflow against a number of implements which all deliver different results. Often the differences results from differently treating white space or counting number of characters. Please feel free to have a look at our implementation yourself; the workflow and the script inside it are open for inspection and improvement.