Before today I had no idea that Microsoft Word had readability statistics built-in to the spelling and grammar check. I stumbled on it by chance when reading the superb blog by Michael Stibbe. But a quick trawl of the web showed me not only how much information there is but also the wealth of advice that’s available on how best to use them. Basically, the stats will spot your passive sentences as well as give you a score on the readability of your writing.
Obviously it’s not a panacea for good writing and the idea will always be to avoid passive sentences in the first place, as well as horribly scrambled syntax. If like me you’re a professional writer then you have no excuse but the truth is we are all susceptible. In much the same way that it makes sense to ask a colleague to cast an eye over something you’ve written it makes just as much sense to spell-check it and to click the option that allows you to see the readability stats and get a sense of just how well your writing reads. For simple instructions on how to find and turn on the readability stats in Microsoft Word, click here.