Readability

            What makes something readable?  Not the same things that define its readability.  It is readable if it is well written and/or I have a desire to read it.  The readability of it is something else.  Readability is an interesting concept. 

            Selzer brings out some interesting facts with his discussion.  Words should be familiar to the audience and concrete.  He said that they should be both familiar and frequently used.  I wonder about this.  Most people’s vocabulary for speech is pretty limited.  Yet they are able to recognize more words than they use.  How could you say the audience frequently uses the word unless it is familiar to them?

            I found it interesting that neither length of sentence nor placement of clauses influenced readability.  The active/passive question annoys me.  We decide what we want to use.  It seems to me that if we were always reading passive, it would be the most readable.  Since most of our writing is active, active sentences are easier to read.

            I started this paragraph off with interesting too.  I have used that word in every paragraph so far.  Isn’t that interesting?

            The part of Selzer’s article I liked best was his discussion of the necessity for further workplace research in readability.  Too often we assume that something works in a lab and outside the same way.  It might be true for germs, although I am not too sure about that, but it isn’t true for people.

            As I said in class, I really liked Courtis’s article on the four readability indexes and the presidents’ letters.  I thought he did a fair job of saying what the limitations of readability formulas were. 

            I enjoyed reading about the level of reading necessary to comprehend the letters.  In fact, I thought it was so (interesting) that I wrote a letter to a friend about it, included the info in my daily journal, and talked to my husband about the article.             

My husband could not believe that 92% of the Canadian population does not have any college education.  I can’t believe it either.  Was the article saying 92% don’t have a grad degree?

 

Jack Selzer.  “Readability Is a Four-Letter Word.” Journal of Business Communication, Vol. 18, No. 4, 23-34 (1981)

 

John K. Courtis.  “Poor Communication is Alive and Well: A Study of Annual Report Readability.” Canadian Journal of Communication 12:3-4 (1986): 1-16.   (May be a different Courtis article.  I didn’t mark which one it was.)

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