Readability Is a Four-Letter Word

Jack Selzer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


While readability formulas are intended to help writers and teachers of business communications, the formulas have in fact been counter-productive in several ways. The formulas don’t really help writers to predict the reada bility of their prose because they oversimplify, because they have not been calibrated for adult readers, and because reading is so highly individual. In addition, the formulas don’t help writers to produce readable documents either; though short sentences and words correlate with difficulty, they do not cause difficulty. Finally, the formulas hamper the teaching of business writing because they emphasize written products instead of the process of writing and because they discourage teachers from employing practical techniques that can develop students’ abilities to manipulate stylistic options.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)23-34
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Business Communication
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1981

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Business, Management and Accounting (miscellaneous)
  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance (miscellaneous)


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