Measure for Measure


Linsear Checks Easy and Hard Words

Certain students have asked me if we could share the information again about the readability index, Linsear Write. Linsear Write was developed for the Air Force to help them calculate the readability of their technical manuals. To understand the index, you need to do the following:


If your answer is 10, you have written at the 10th grade in high school. If your answer is 14, then it would take a sophomore in college to understand your writing.

Exceptions do exist to the general counting of words. Let's take each of the exceptions:

If your name is Jane Smith, that counts as "1." If you have a number like 2,350,000, that counts as "1." Let's say you have a date, such as 6 November 1996, the 6 counts as 1; November counts as 1; and 1996 counts as 1. Suppose you have an amount, such as $4.25, that counts as "1." Let's take some geography, such as Northridge, California. Northridge counts as "1," and California counts as "1."

Lazy Word Checks Writing Carefully

The Canadians have developed an index that zeroes in on "it," "this," "there," and the word, "and," all considered lazy words. Better ways need to be found to write sentences. The calculation of the index also concentrates on prepositions, such as of, from, with, and by. These prepositions tend to make the sentence too long. Also, prepositions can destroy the rhythm of the sentence. Try reading one of your sentences and emphasizing with a loud voice every time you encounter a preposition. You will see how the rhythm can be destroyed.

When you calculate the Lazy Word Index, don't forget to omit the opening and closing paragraphs. The index seems to work better with the middle paragraphs. Also, avoid selecting passages that are bulleted or numbered. These exceptions allow you to calculate a "cleaner" Lazy Word Index.

To calculate the Lazy Word Index you need to establish six columns of data. These columns include: