Write on: complex is not clever

Write on: complex is not clever

Mention of “flesh” and “Kincaid” bring to mind young people and the ocean, and the pop hit Dreams Are Ten A Penny. The manager of The Partridge Family was Reuben Kincaid, but it was Kincade exhorting Jenny to “leave them in the Lost and Found”.

The “flesh” prompting this column is Flesch, part of the Flesch-Kincaid index, a formula that estimates the reading level of writing. There are others including Gunning Fog and SMOG (Simple Measure of Gobbledygook).

Keen to improve his own writing, the author of the article that alerted me to these “readability” checks was “dismayed” when Flesch-Kincaid rated him a US grade level of 7.9. Curious, he subjected Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea to the formula. It returned a grade level of 4.

In the game of business communication, remember primary-school level was good enough for a Nobel Prize winner. Fluency, not wordiness, is the key.

Darrell Croker is senior coach at Write For Impact.