Cool Readability Tools

If you wonder how good your writing is, wonder no more. Here are two good apps to help you evaluate your writing.

The Hemingway App is geared toward improving your writing. Take it with a grain of salt, of course, because it is a machine. Bear in mind that you might be trying to accomplish something different than it is trying to do. Generally, it seems to score with an eye toward helping you write very clean, active prose. Like Hemingway. If you want flowery poetry, then you should look for a Dickens App somewhere. And while I do like Dickens, his writing isn't a good model for technical writing. The Hemingway App, in particular, gives lots of generally good advice about writing good, clean prose.

Readable.io evaluates text giving you a variety of scores based on different academic scales that I don't understand. But what I do understand is the simple letter grade that it gives.
It also gives you some statistical feedback, such as the percentage of your words that are adverbs.

That's right, chumps. I got an A.

Generally, good technical writing should score around the 8th- to 10th-grade reading levels. That's because, without constant exercise at very challenging texts, our reading levels tend to settle back to around that grade. It's not a bad thing. Most people that studied Hamlet in high school can still make it out. But it was hard for most folks then and still is now. If you're explaining technical material to people, it's easy to make it feel all complicated. That happens by accident. What takes deliberation and skill is to make complex things clear.

And yes, I'm going to add these tools to the Resources to Learn Tech Writing.

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