Using Microsoft Word’s Writing Metrics

In my writing groups and other encounters with authors, I find that many don’t realize that Microsoft WORD will analyze your writing and provide metrics. Specifically, it will provide the Flesch Reading Score, Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level, and percentage of passive sentences. WORD keeps this feature well hidden, so it’s not surprising not everyone knows it’s there.

To get those metrics, go to Review and then to Spelling & Grammar. Run “Spelling & Grammar” on your story or the part you select. When Spelling & Grammar finishes, it will ask if you want to review the rest of your document. If you answer NO, the metrics should pop up. If they don’t, you will need to go into Settings and turn them on.

To do that, go to File (usually in the top left-hand corner). Click on File, then go down to Options (at the very bottom on my screen). Click on Options and scroll down to “Proofing.”  Go down until you find “When correcting Spelling and Grammar in Word.”  The last option is “Show readability statistics.” Check that box.

While you’re in Options, you may want to check to see if the selections there reflect what you want Spelling & Grammar to do – and not do.

In theory, the higher the Reading Ease score, the better; but in practice, the highest Reading Ease scores would indicate that your writing reads like the old “Dick and Jane” reader. So, don’t go to extremes. Beyond that, if you are not familiar with these statistics, you can Google and find plenty of articles about those scores. Some articles will tell you what to aim for in your type of writing. And some of that will be accurate.

I put the word count and readability statistics on every prose piece I bring to a writing group. I find it useful, but I’m also aware that those scores can be somewhat arbitrary. They are helpful, but not divine guidance.

Reading Ease:            74.2

Grade Level:               6.2

Passive Sentences:     0.0%

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