Janice C. Redish, John L. Selzer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


Readability formulas are inadequate measures of how difficult written material is for adult readers, say these authors. In fact, readability formulas are counterproductive because they focus the writer's attention on words and sentences and draw attention away from important sources of readers' problems. Readability formulas are being used in contexts where they have no research base, and they are being misused by writers who rewrite to achieve a specific required score. A better way of assessing readability is user testing. This article has three parts. We begin by defining the topic for those who are not familiar with readability formulas. In the main part of the article, we discuss five facts that lead us to recommend that writers not use readability formulas. In the final section, we suggest another approach to testing documents and some possibilities for making this alternative financially and managerially feasible.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)46-52
Number of pages7
JournalTechnical Communication
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 4 1985

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Communication
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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