Plain language: evaluation

Writing in Plain Language is a process. You can almost always improve your writing by revising and asking someone else to look it over.

Use readability scores, editing tools and checklists

The following tools from the Plain Language Guide can help you start editing your content:

  • Plain Language checklists
  • Readability scores, such as Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level (described in the feature box on this page)
  • Automated proofreaders such as Hemingway App and Microsoft Word

These tools will add objectivity to your editing process. They will help you to identify ways to simplify your writing such as:

  • long sentences and paragraphs
  • long words
  • use of the passive voice

Use your discretion

All the rules and tools discussed in this course are only guides. There are many cases when you can and should break the rules.

Readability scores are a guideline and can't always be trusted. The calculations are very simple and won't work on all types of content.

Remember that the goal of all this is to communicate your message to your audience clearly.

Exercise Eleven: Evaluating Sample Text

Ask for help 

Far better than any checklist or automated tool is a second set of eyes.

Peer review

Ask someone else to review your content. Ideally choose someone who is not an expert in your subject matter. You can be confident your writing is clear if they can easily read what you've written and tell you what it is about.

Usability testing

Ask members of your target audience to provide feedback on your content:

  • Can they find the information they need?
  • Is the information where they would expect to find it?
  • Can they understand the information easily?
  • Do they see ways to clarify or improve the organization of the content?

Continue to Plain Language Course Summary