Category Archive: copy editing

Apr 25

Correct Facts without Insult

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There’s a factual flub in the copy. Today, find tips on how to query factual errors without insulting the writer, in my How To column at Copyediting.com. Read the rest of this entry »

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.catchthesun.net/2016/04/correct-facts-without-insult/

Apr 18

Defending Your Edits

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Having to answer to an untrained critic is one of the most ire-inducing things an editor can be asked to do. Today, in my column at Copyediting.com, I talk about how to not defend your edits.


Link to my columns on Copyediting.com

 

boxer with fighting face

 

Photo by Gabriel Delgado, used under CC BY-2.0 license.

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.catchthesun.net/2016/04/defending-your-edits/

Apr 11

Increase Productivity with Multiple Views

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Open multiple views into a single document. I show you how today, in my How To column at Copyediting.com. Works in Word, Excel, Acrobat, and more. Read the rest of this entry »

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.catchthesun.net/2016/04/increase-productivity-with-multiple-views/

Mar 25

Ways to Lower the Reading Level

Photo by vimages (CC BY 2.0)

by Rita Vanden Heuvel for dameditors. Reposted here with permission and covered under this site’s CC license

Writers of safety communications know that it’s crucial to produce highly readable content to help prevent injuries and save people’s lives. They know that the average reader has a reading level between sixth and eighth grade and that readers are more likely to read content that matches their reading level. Beyond making content readable, writers also consider the length of content. Readers are more likely to read shorter content than longer content, and content that has a clear purpose.

If you want to make your words matter to people, you need to take readability seriously.

What is Readability?

Most simply, readability is a measure of how easy it is to read your writing. It has to do with semantics and syntax, or the length of words and sentences. Often, the readability score indicates the number of years of education required to understand the writing.

readability 2

Test Readability

You can use readability formulas to assess reading level. There are software and websites that can do this for you. Readability formulas assess semantics and syntax. Many formulas measure

  • words according to their average length in characters or syllables
  • sentences according to average length in characters or words
  • unfamiliar or high frequency words

The chart summarizes readability formulas appropriate for a variety of audiences. Use one or several of the formulas to test your content. As you become more experienced, you will likely rely less and less on such formulas and become adept at targeting writing

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to the appropriate reading level for the audience.

Formula

What It Measures

How Each Can Best Be Used

Grade equivalent score: represents a student’s ability level in comparison to students who were in the specific test’s norming group
Flesch Reading Ease Flesch-Kinkaid Grade Level • syllables per word and words per sentence • appropriate for grades 3 to 12
Fry Readability Graph • appropriate for elementary through college
Gunning Fog Score • words per sentence and complex words (three or more syllables) • often used for health care material and general business publications
SMOG Index • complex words (three or more syllables) • often used for health care material
Coleman Liau Index • characters per word and words per sentence • appropriate for grade 4 to college
Spache • words per sentence and unfamiliar words (words not in Familiar Word List) • appropriate for grades 1 to 3• highlights difficult words that need to be shortened/simplified
Dale-Chall • words per sentence and unfamiliar words (words not in Familiar Word List) • appropriate for grade 4 to 12 highlights difficult words that need to be shortened/simplified
Lexile measure: represents a student’s level on a developmental scale of reading ability. Matches student with text at whatever level the student is reading.
Lexile • words per sentence and words against a frequency list– sentence length carries more weight than word frequency • appropriate when working on texts with defined literacy levels

For educational publishing, I recommend using Spache for students in grades 1 to 3 and Dale Chall for students in grade 4 and beyond. These formulas are based on the use of familiar words rather than syllable or word counts. Research shows that readers find it easier to read, process, and recall content if they find the words familiar. The formulas highlight the difficult words and include a list of more common words. In addition, these formulas have been tested scientifically and are open source.

Limitations of Readability Formulas

Readability formulas have limitations. They can’t assess

  • how complex the ideas are
  • whether the content is logically ordered
  • whether the vocabulary is appropriate for the audience
  • whether there is a gender or cultural bias
  • whether the design, form, and font style help make content easier to read

You need to address these types of limitations as part of good writing.

Ways to Lower Reading Level: Write Clearly, Simply, and With Purpose

words sentences and paragraphsWrite clearly and use plain language. Shorten the number of words in your sentences. Shorten the number of sentences in paragraphs and when you can, shorten the number of paragraphs.

At the word level

  • Use words with fewer syllables.
  • Define new terms using plain language.
  • Do not use contractions (e.g., don’t).
  • Omit needless words.

At the sentence level

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At the paragraph level

Making content highly readable is important for all kinds of communications, not just those that involve health and safety. Your goal should be to maximize the impact of your words, whether they appear in print or digital media.

View a sample that shows how to lower the reading level at http://dameditors.ca/?p=517.

Read More

http://xa.yimg.com/kq/groups/4290618/750166103/name/Heydari-2012_Human_Evaluation_vs_computer_index.pdf

Online Readability Test Tools

www.interventioncentral.org/tools/reading-fluency-passage-generator

www.read-able.com

www.readability-score.com

www.online-utility.org/english/readability_test_and_improve.jsp

lexile.com/analyzer

www.lexile.com/­ndabook

Making Writing More Readable

dontpanictips.blogspot.ca/2012/08/how-to-make-your-writing-more-readable.html

raventools.com/blog/ultimate-list-of-online-content-readability-tests

www.wow-womenonwriting.com/27-How2-LowerReadingLevel.html

Word Lists

The Children’s Writer’s Word Book by Alijandra Mogilner amzn.to/WOt8rr

Why Johnny Can’t Read: And What You Can Do About It by Rudolf Flesch amzn.to/Tt4zS0

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.catchthesun.net/2016/03/ways-to-lower-the-reading-level/

Feb 09

Flag Problem Words Automatically

This macro flags problem words in the MS. My favourite part of the Copyediting Newsletter treatment of my latest “Technically Speaking” column is the explanation of the parts of the macro. You can cut and paste this macro into your Word program. The column tells you how to customize it.

What I omitted for delicate readers were all the rude words my own macro flags so that words like pubic and cum don’t make it into the high school textbooks that I work on.

Link to my columns on Copyediting.com

Subscription required.

 

Copyediting Newsletter Feb-Mar 2016

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.catchthesun.net/2016/02/flag-problem-words-automatically/

Feb 01

How to Attune Your Ear to the Author’s Voice

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How to attune your ear to an author’s voice so that you can preserve it while you edit — today, in my How To column at Copyediting.com. Read the rest of this entry »

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.catchthesun.net/2016/02/how-to-attune-your-ear-to-the-authors-voice/

Dec 07

How to Get Word Ready for Editing

Tweet this post.11 auto settings in MS Word to turn off before you edit—today, in my How To column at Copyediting.com. Read the rest of this entry »

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.catchthesun.net/2015/12/how-to-get-word-ready-for-editing/

Oct 26

Copyeditors’ Sixth Sense — Build it Now

Get a life. Your ‘editorial sense’ depends on it.Tweet this post.

 

Those “editorial senses” can lead to unbelievable “saves,” but can you hone them or are you just born with them? Start building your editorial sixth sense with this first set of tips today, in my How To column at Copyediting.com. More tips to come.

 

Can that “editorial sense” be taught? Tweet this post.

Tips for developing your editorial sixth sense. Tweet this post.

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Permanent link to this article: http://blog.catchthesun.net/2015/10/copyeditors-sixth-sense-build-it-now/

Oct 19

How to Tell a Proofread from a Copyedit

Tweet this post.When your magic eight-ball isn’t handy, follow these steps to figure out what is wanted when you’re asked to “look this over”: proofread, copyedit, line edit, or something more substantive. Today, in my How To column at Copyediting.com. Read the rest of this entry »

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.catchthesun.net/2015/10/how-to-tell-a-proofread-from-a-copyedit/

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.catchthesun.net/2015/09/how-to-remove-personal-metadata-from-a-word-file/

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