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On Course, Fourth Edition
Skip Downing
Technology Exercises
Technology Exercise 2

Using word processing software, determine the readability of at least 250 words of your own writing. You can use journal writings for this course or writing you have done for any course. To determine "readability" using Microsoft Word, highlight the text you want to evaluate (or skip this step to check all the words in a document). Then click the Tools button at the top of the screen. On the drop down menu, click "Spelling and Grammar." When you finish checking your spelling and grammar, a box will appear on your screen giving you readability information on the text you've checked (if the box doesn't pop up, see NOTE below). You'll receive such information as the number of words in your selection, the number of words per sentence, and, importantly, the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level of your writing. For example, such a test on this paragraph reveals that there are 180 words, 20.0 words per sentence, and the reading level is grade 10.3. (You'll find that the reading grade level will vary in different parts of this, or any, lengthy text.)

Experiment with changes in your writing that will lower or raise the reading level of your text by at least one grade level. Two key variables are the length of your words and sentences.

NOTE: If, after doing a spell check, a box does not appear on your computer screen with readability information, you'll need to make a simple change in your settings. Click Tools, then Spelling and Grammar. At the bottom of the Spelling and Grammar box (which only comes up if there is a spelling or grammar error in your writing, so make sure there is at least one), click Options. In Options, put a check next to "Show Readability Statistics" and then click Okay. Now you're ready to recheck your writing for readability using the directions above. You won't have to make this change again.