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Check Your Language Level, by Dr. Ken Broda-Bahm, Persuasive Litigator Blog


Dr. Brada-Bahm makes a good point. Our job is to be understood, regardless of the method of communication. There is, however, an easy way to check your document’s readability statistics if you use Microsoft Word.  

To set readability statistics for in Word, click on “Options,” then “Proofing.” Scroll down to “When correcting spelling and grammar in Word.” Check the box for “Show readability statistics.” Afterwards, when you run a spell check on any Word document, it will show the readability statistics for your document. -CCE

The image of the trial lawyer that comes closest to our ideal might involve the advocate standing in front of the jury or the bench, waxing eloquent in oral argument. But the reality is that, even for lawyers who get to trial frequently, they’re writing more often than they’re speaking. Before, after, and often instead of those opportunities for oral persuasion, they are drafting briefs, motions, and memos. As attorneys get used to that written style, it can become difficult to gauge how comprehensible they are. You think you’re being perfectly clear — and you are, to you — but you may have lost track of how much work is falling on the reader. There is, however, a tool that can help, and lawyers should be aware of it. Contently, the content-marketing blog, writes about ‘reading level analysis‘ as a free online service you can use in order to test whether you’re writing at, say, a 5th, 9th or 12th grade reading level. The test itself is easy. You simply navigate to the ‘readability-score‘ site, paste any text you want into the window, or upload a file if it is in pdf, or paste in a URL if the text is already online. Then, click ‘calculate score’ and you instantly get a ‘reading ease’ number that varies between 0 (most difficult) and 100 (easiest), along with a more understandable identification of the grade-level that you are writing at. . . .