What is the Linsear Write Formula and How Does It Measure Readability?
The Linsear Write Readability Formula was developed by Edward Fry and Richard Linsear and is specifically designed to measure how readable a text is. Like Flesch-Kincaid and other readability tests, it estimates the grade level needed in order to comprehend the text by analyzing the number of simple and complex words within it. But how well does it work in practice and are there any limitations to be aware of? Let’s take a closer look in this detailed article on the Linsear Write Readability formula and how it measures readability.
No matter what you’re writing, ensuring readability is vital to making sure that the people who read your content understand it. There are several factors that go into whether or not something is readable, most notably its sentence structure, use of vocabulary and the length of sentences among other things.
Readability not only helps you communicate your ideas more clearly but depending on your audience, it may also give people more reasons to engage with your content, may brand your business (either in a positive or negative light) and can improve accessibility to everyone.
The Linsear Write Readability Formula, rather than using complex algorithms or other advanced calculations, uses a simple and efficient method for measuring readability, making it a favorite among educators and content specialists.
How Does The Linsear Write Readability Formula Test Readability?
In short, the Linsear Write Readability formula classifies words into simple and complex categories. Simple words, like “happy”, “cat” or “dog” have one or two syllables and are commonly used in everyday language: “I saw a dog at the park.”
Complex words have three or more syllables and often fall into a niche category reflecting more specialized use. Words like “efficiency” and “quantifiable” would fall into this category, from a sentence such as “The vehicle passed its fuel efficiency tests with quantifiable data reflecting its innovative construction.”
The Linsear Write Readability formula gives greater weight to these more complex words, since these types of words usually require more cognitive effort to understand and can affect readability and comprehension. By assigning these types of words a higher value, the formula takes into account the higher level of mental processing needed to understand them.
From there, the formula then counts the number of simple and complex words. Simple words are multiplied by one whereas complex words are multiplied by three, and then the resulting number is divided by the total number of sentences in the piece. It then assigns a grade level at which the content could be effectively understood.
This article contains a number of complex words and scores highly on the Linsear Write Readability Formula test
Using the Linsear Write Readability Formula in Education
In education, the Linsear Write Readability Formula is often used by teachers and educational professionals to choose reading materials for students that are appropriate to their grade level. In this way, students aren’t bored by content that is too simple, nor too overwhelmed by content that is too advanced.
But there are uses outside of education as well. The Linsear Write Readability Formula is often used in professional writing, technical documentation, legal documents or specialized manuals to tailor instructions (for example) to the intended audience.
Limitations of the Linsear Write Readability Formula
As with any readability formula, there are some limitations to be aware of. Because the Linsear Write Readability Formula only uses qualitative measures (counting the number of words and syllables in each word), it doesn’t account for the unique characteristics that can affect comprehension and readability including the reader’s background knowledge of the material, the surrounding context or even their interest in it.
It also does not account for different reading abilities. Students in the same grade level or even individuals in the same industry may have different abilities to comprehend a given text. For this reason, the results it gives are not always an accurate indication of how understandable and readable a given text is.
Should You Use the Linsear Write Readability Formula?
With that being said, the Linsear Write Readability Formula should be used as one of many different methods of evaluating the readability of your content. As a writer or educator, use it to support your content’s overall readability goal range rather than as a single specific number that reflects whether or not something is readable.
Plagiarism Expert Sherice Jacob brings over 20 years of experience to digital marketing as a copywriter and content creator. With a finger on the pulse of AI and its developments, she works extensively with Originality.AI to help businesses and publishers get the best returns from their Content.