Now more than ever, being able to communicate effectively is an in-demand skill. Whether you’re writing an email, a blog post or creating website content, having a message that not only resonates with people but is fully and easily understood by them is vital. Fortunately, there are a variety of free tools to help you check the readability of your content and improve your writing.
In this article, we’ll be taking a look at some of the best ways to check readability for free. However, before we jump right in, it’s important to understand why readability is so important and what exactly it means to score well on a readability test.
What Is Readability?
Readability is simply the ease with which someone can comprehend written text. But what exactly does that mean? Writing clearly and concisely helps not only improve the understanding of your content but also helps your readers to retain it more easily, in turn helping you meet communication goals.
Now that you have a better understanding of what readability is and what it involves, how do you measure it, and even better, how can you do it for free?
Flesch-Kincaid Readability Tests
One of the most common and most popular types of readability formulas is the Flesch-Kincaid scale. This test looks at the average length of sentences and number of syllables per word to give a given passage a specific “grade level”. This score means that students at or above that grade level should be able to read and understand your text.
Many free readability tests use Flesch-Kincaid as their standard for evaluating readability. Beyond this, some readability checkers also offer tips for improving your writing such as broadening your word choice and maintaining the right tone and flow.
Grammar and Spelling Checkers
Although grammar and spelling checkers aren’t readability checkers themselves, improving your spelling and grammar has a definite impact on the readability of your piece. Tools like Grammarly go beyond ordinary grammar and spell checks to help you improve the accuracy and punctuation of your writing which then indirectly affects the readability of your document.
So far, we’ve covered the how and why of readability tests and touched on a few different ways to improve readability, now let’s dive into the good stuff – how to check readability for free.
How to Check Readability for Free
There are several ways to check readability for free both online and offline. Here are a few of the most common options used by content creators, website owners and publishers.
Use a Readability Add-Ons for Google Docs and Microsoft Word
There are several different readability add-ons for Google Docs and Microsoft Word.
Check Readability in Microsoft Word
By default, Microsoft Word has a built-in readability checker.
In the browser toolbar choose Word > Preferences > Spelling and Grammar. Check “Check grammar with spelling and Show readability statistics.
In the Word document itself, choose Review > Spelling & Grammar
Check Readability in Google Docs
Google Docs does not have a built-in readability checker. This feature used to exist in the Google Docs app but was removed by the development team some years ago.
There are some browser add-ons that work with Google Docs to check readability, but most of them have a one-time cost or a monthly fee. Conversely, Microsoft Word’s readability checker is free.
In order to check for readability in Google Docs, you’ll need to either download a browser extension (more on that below) or use a web-based readability checker.
Use a Readability Browser Extension
As we noted above, there are several readability browser extensions for Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and many more, however it’s important to keep in mind that should you choose one of these tools, you may be putting your privacy at risk. Because browser extensions typically require access to your browsing data in order to “read” and analyze it, you may not understandably want to grant permission to third-party apps.
In addition, some browser extensions can dramatically impact the performance and speed of your browser. The more extensions you add, the more they nibble away at your system resources. Having too many can cause your browser to slog through ordinarily quick tasks, so if you decide to use a readability browser extension, keep these points in mind.
Try Originality.AI’s Free Readability Checker
There’s a better way to check readability for free than relying on clunky browser extensions or add-ons. With Originality.AI’s free readability checker, you can do much more than check for readability, but even the readability check is designed to give you a full-featured view of just how understandable your content is.
Why Use Originality.AI’s Free Readability Checker?
In addition to being free, Originality.AI’s readability checker goes beyond just a basic readability scan to compare your content across multiple readability formulas, giving you a multi-pronged readability analysis. Why so many different formulas and scores? Simply because some readability scores are great for one particular situation, but not so much for another.
For example, the Flesch-Kincaid scale from above is great for assigning a U.S. grade level of readability to your work. But what if you’re outside the U.S.? A readability level of 8th grade might not make much sense. In addition, Flesch-Kincaid is based on texts written in English and therefore would give faulty results on foreign language texts.
Originality.AI spans a wide range of the most popular readability formulas, so you can see the full picture of how understandable your content is, including:
Check for Readability, Text Issues and Keyword Density
But we didn’t stop there. Checking for readability is a great start in making sure your content is understandable by your target audience, but text issues can hamper that readability and a low keyword density can keep it from being found by the search engines in the first place.
That’s why Originality’s free readability checker also highlights any text issues that need correction as well as provides the approximate density of various keywords in the document, and it does it all in just a few seconds, with nothing to download or install.
The Full Picture of Readability and Much More
Using the Originality.AI free readability checker lets you check up to 100 words of text for free. You can also optionally upload a document or paste in a URL. However, if you want to check a larger amount of content just by copying and pasting, you’ll want to try the Premium Originality.AI service.
In addition to letting you scan more content for improved readability across all of the aforementioned readability formulas, you can also optionally check for plagiarism as well as AI-written content. You can perform these checks for as little as 1 cent per 100 words, and opt to check your text or documents across all three services or individually on a : case-by-case basis.
What’s the Difference Between Originality.AI’s Free Readability Checker and the Paid Version?
The biggest factor that separates the free version of Originality.AI’s readability checker from the premium version is that with the premium version, you’ll get your ideal readability score which, from our recent study on readability and search engine rankings. Given that all of the top ranking sites across thousands of keywords and industries all have similar readability scores, hitting that ideal score directly correlates to a higher ranking in Google.
Secondly, the free version of the readability checker isn’t available in the API. You can read more about Originality’s API by clicking here. These added benefits are specifically geared toward content creators and publishers and can be invaluable as you work on making your content as authentic as possible.
The Bottom Line: Should You Use a Free Readability Checker?
Free readability checkers generally only scratch the surface by giving you a general score or grade level; but you’re only getting part of the picture. By leveraging several different readability formulas, you have a much larger and more thorough view of readability as well as other key aspects that it affects such as keyword density for search engine optimization, the use of more complex words when simpler words would suffice and so on.
Whether you need to check readability of your content in bulk or you want a simple, user-friendly way to ensure your content is not only understandable but also free of plagiarism or the tell-tale signs of AI writing, Originality.AI’s readability checker and full suite of tools can help you check your work with confidence. Try it now!