When I discovered that KWord, the KDE word processor, could analyze text for something called Flesch Reading Ease (FRE), I was intrigued. FRE is one of a number of readability tests that can be applied to written works, and one of the most popular. The text is rated on a scale from zero to a hundred, with higher numbers indicating an easier read.
GEEK ALERT! Here’s the formula: FRE = 206.835 – (1.015 x ASL) – (84.6 x ASW), with ASL being the average sentence length (in words) and ASW being the average number of syllables per word. The readability level ranges from Very Difficult (FRE 0 – 29) to Very Easy (FRE 90 – 100).
An example of a Flesch Reading Ease score is Green Comet, the novel for which this website exists, at 78.34, which translates to a readability level of Fairly Easy. This article comes in at 58.28, which Flesch calls Fairly Difficult.
Other readability tests include the Flesch-Kincaid Readability Score, the Coleman-Liau Readability Score, and the Bormuth Readability Score, which all rate texts against US grade school levels.
Other word processors that have tools to check FRE are Abiword and MS Word.