For communications to be understood, your writing needs to be direct, familiar and concise. This means eliminating jargon and benefit-speak from your communications. But what about readability? Your communications should aim for a sixth-grade reading level. Here’s why.
In general, most adults read at the sixth to eighth grade level. Think TV Guide, Reader’s Digest and most popular novels. Business publications, Time Magazine and Newsweek, are written at the 10+ grade level.
It’s possible to obtain good readability scores even with gobbledygook — what we call the language necessary for summary plan descriptions — by keeping most of your text to shorter sentences. Typically, a sentence over 14 words is too long.
You can check the reading level of any communications you create with the Flesch-Kincaid grade level tool. It’s available in Microsoft Word’s Spelling and Grammar tool.
Remember: Confusion leads to frustration, which leads to a low opinion of valuable programs. Review and edit your communications to make sure they hit the mark every time.