Easy, Free, Useful Tool for Effective Online Writing

Easy, Free, Useful Tool for Effective Online WritingLast week I trained 25 nonprofit marketers on Writing for the Web, one of my favorite training topics. Nothing is more important in writing for the Web (or email or blogs) than writing succinct, focused, easy-to-digest copy, so I drilled down on how to do so. Try it. It’s harder than you think.

How serendipitous to discover this free (for Word users) tool this morning, which assesses how pithy and powerful your online writing really is. Word’s Readability Analysis Tool tracks:

  • How succinct and simple your writing really is (these qualities are crucial for online readability) — counting sentences per paragraph; words per sentence; and characters per word.
  • Other key “readability” markers:
    • Passive sentences (active tense a must)
    • Flesch Reading Ease Score which rates copy on a 100-point scale; higher scores indicate easy of understanding.  Aim for 60-70 at a minimum.
    • Flesch – Kincaid Grade Level scores copy according to school grade levels. A score of 7 means that a seventh grader will understand your writing. Aim for 7 or 8 to ensure a broad range of readers.

Here’s how to get the Tool on your Word 2003 toolbar:

  • On the Tools menu, click Options, and then click the Spelling & Grammar tab.
  • Select the Check grammar with spelling check box.
  • Select the Show readability statistics check box, and then click OK.
  • On the Standard toolbar (the bars with buttons and options that you use to carry out commands, at top of screen. To display a toolbar, press ALT and then SHIFT+F10), click Spelling and Grammar to pop up your readability report.

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Nancy Schwartz on April 15, 2008 in Branding and Messages, Copywriting, Email and E-Newsletters, High-Impact Websites, Nonprofit Communications | 4 comments

  • This is an awesome tool. I sent it to our entire Web Strategy Committee. Thank you for all the excellent insight you bring to the field of online communications and marketing for nonprofits.

  • I am a big fan of this tool and use it whenever I am writing copy. I particularly love the passive sentences measurement.
    It is very easy to fall into the passive voice, making your copy less clear and a drudgery to read. Using this tool has actually made me more conscious of the active voice in my writing. If I’ve scored less than 10%, I’m happy.

  • I head up the marketing efforts for a non-profit. I enjoy your blog.
    One thing I noticed about your entry concerning web copy. I think the first paragraph is missing a word. Should there be an “I” after “so?”
    Again, I like the blog.

  • Your blog is nice…i only encountered it today but after reading some of your posts i must say that it really give out good information. I agree that what you posted is important on copywriting. The readability of the content matters cause if users don’t understand it they will leave your writing in no time.

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