As an actuary, accountant or financial consultant, deep knowledge, expert skills and experience are key to writing an interesting article or paper advice.
However, no matter how much you're an expert, finally you're as good as you can get your message across to your audience.
The art of the expert is to simplify the complexity of his/her research into simple, and for the audience understandable text.
In practice this implies that the expert will have to measure the readability of his papers before publishing.
The two most important issues to tackle are 'readability' and 'text-level'.
Although there are many sorts of tests, both topics are simply covered by the so called Flesch-Kincaid Readability Test.
Let's take a look ate the two simple test formulas of this test:
FRES = 206.835 – (1.015 x ASL) – (84.6 x ASW)
Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level
FKGL = (0.39 x ASL) + (11.8 x ASW) – 15.59
ASL = average sentence length
number of words divided by the number of sentences
ASW = average number of syllables per word
number of syllables divided by number of words
Texts with a FRES-score of 90-100 are easily understandable by an average 5th grader and scores between 0 and 30 are best understood by college graduates.
Some examples of readability index scores of magazines:
- Reader's Digest Magazine: FRES = 65
- Time magazine: FRES = 52
- Harvard Law Review: FRES = 30
The FRES-test has become a U.S. governmental standard. Many government agencies require documents or forms to meet specific readability levels. Most states require insurance forms to score 40-50 on the test.
Where to test your documents?
Besides matching the FRES and FKTL scores in your document, as a guideline try to establish the next English text-test-characteristics
- Average sentence length 15-20 words, 25-33 syllables and 75-100 characters.
- Characters per word: < 7
- Syllables per word: 1.5 - 2.0
- Words per sentence: 15 - 20
This blog text resulted in scores:
- Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease 64.7
- Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level 7.2
- Characters per Word 4.4
- Syllables per Word 1.5
- Words per Sentence 11.8
As an example we test the readability of one of the articles of the Investment Fallacies e-book, as published by the Society of Actuaries (SOA) :
By Max J. Rudolph, published in 2014
The readability outcome is as follows:
With regard to public financial or actuarial publications a FRES-score of around 50 assures, that your publication reaches a wide audience. Even in case you're publishing an article at university level, try to keep the FRES-score as high as possible.
If you write an academic paper, you may use the online application Word and Phrase to measure the percentage of academic words. Try to keep this percentage below 20% to keep your document readable. The publication 'The Best Model Doesn’t Win' would score 17% on academic words......
Next time you write a document or make a PPT presentation, don't forget to
Links:- WORD AND PHRASE