By Nirmaldasan

(nirmaldasan@ hotmail.com)

For those who fear a formula but still wish to know the grade-level of a text, Edward Fry’s Readability Graph has the answer. Though Dr. Fry recommends three samples of 100 words, we shall take just one sample to avoid the calculation of averages. All we have to do is count the number of sentences and syllables in a 100-word sample and look at the relevant zone in the graph.

The Compact Readability Chart (CRC) is a small attempt to tabulate the reading levels. A shortcoming of this simplification is that it does not show grade-levels; it shows on a seven-point scale whether the text is very easy or very hard or the other levels in between.

Take a sample of 100 words. Count the number of sentences (S) and excess syllables (X). Excess syllables can be easily counted by leaving out the first syllable of each word. The point of intersection of X and S shows the level of reading ease: VE (very easy); E (easy); FE (fairly easy); S (standard); FH (fairly hard); H (hard); and VH (very hard).

 Sentences (S)       → 1 2 3-4 5-6 7-9 10+ Excess Syllables (X)↓ 0-9 VH FE E VE VE VE 10-19 VH S E VE VE VE 20-29 VH FH FE E VE VE 30-39 VH H S FE E VE 40-49 VH H FH S FE E 50-59 VH VH H FH S FE 60-69 VH VH H H FH S 70-79 VH VH VH H H FH 80-89 VH VH VH VH H H 90+ VH VH VH VH VH VH

The CRC is the outcome of a close study of the reliable Flesch Reading Ease. I had problems in filling some of the squares. For example, I had a doubt whether it should be VE or E in the square of intersection between 0-9 (X) and 3-4 (S) and I subjectively settled for E. If you are not happy with the entries, you are welcome to change them.

A word about X. Flesch’s simple syllable-counting procedure adds X to the number of words to get the number of syllables. Irving Fang’s easy listening formula is based on X. And Dr. Fry has been for long counting X instead of syllables.