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Readability by the numbers

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Let’s start with the bad news: More than half of U.S. adults have basic or below basic literacy. Ponder more U.S. literacy stats …

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Readability by the numbers

  1. 1. Readability 
 by the numbers
  2. 2. “This is too easy 
 to read.” Kate Meyer, “Writing Compelling Digital Copy,” Nielsen Norman Group, San Francisco UX Conference
  3. 3. “This is too easy 
 to read.” — Nobody ever Kate Meyer, “Writing Compelling Digital Copy,” Nielsen Norman Group, San Francisco UX Conference
  4. 4. 0 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 Nonliterate Below basic Basic Intermediate Proficient 12% 36% 34% 14% 4% U.S. literacy, Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies, 2013 > 1/2 > 1/2 of U.S. adults read at basic level or below.
  5. 5. That means most can … But most cannot … • Sign forms • Compare ticket prices for two events • Look up shows in a TV guide • Find places on a map • Calculate the cost of office supplies from a catalog • Compare viewpoints in two editorials U.S. literacy, Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies, 2013
  6. 6. “The problem with communication 
 is the illusion that it 
 has been accomplished.”George Bernard Shaw
  7. 7. 4% of U.S. adults can’t read well enough 
 to take a literacy test. 0 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 Nonliterate Below basic Basic Intermediate Proficient 12% 36% 34% 14% 4% U.S. literacy, Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies, 2013
  8. 8. That means most can … But most cannot … Locate a single piece of information in familiar copy Identify which candidate earned the fewest votes from a simple table identifying three candidates and the number of votes they each received U.S. literacy, Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies, 2013
  9. 9. 14% of U.S. adults read at below basic levels. U.S. literacy, Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies, 2013 0 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 Nonliterate Below basic Basic Intermediate Proficient 12% 36% 34% 14% 4%
  10. 10. That means most can … But most cannot … Identify which candidate earned the fewest votes from a simple table identifying three candidates and the number of votes they each received Count the number of countries in which the generic drug market accounts for 10% or more of drug sales from two paragraphs and a chart of generic drug use in 15 countries U.S. literacy, Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies, 2013
  11. 11. 0 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 Nonliterate Below basic Basic Intermediate Proficient 12% 36% 34% 14% 4% 34% of U.S. adults read at basic levels. U.S. literacy, Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies, 2013
  12. 12. That means most can … But most cannot … Count the number of countries in which the generic drug market accounts for 10% or more of drug sales from two paragraphs and a chart of generic drug use in 15 countries Identify the link leading to the organization’s phone number from a website with several links, including “contact us” and “FAQ” U.S. literacy, Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies, 2013
  13. 13. 0 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 Nonliterate Below basic Basic Intermediate Proficient 12% 36% 34% 14% 4% U.S. literacy, Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies, 2013 36% of U.S. adults 
 read at an intermediate level.
  14. 14. That means most can … But most cannot … Identify the link leading to the organization’s phone number from a website with several links, including “contact us” and “FAQ” Click to the second page of search results from a library website to identify the author of a book called Ecomyth U.S. literacy, Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies, 2013
  15. 15. 12% of U.S. adults read at proficient levels. U.S. literacy, Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies, 2013 0 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 Nonliterate Below basic Basic Intermediate Proficient 12% 36% 34% 14% 4%
  16. 16. That means most can … But most cannot … Click to the second page of search results from a library website to identify the author of a book called Ecomyth Review search results from a library website to identify a book suggesting that the claims made both for and against genetically modified foods are unreliable U.S. literacy, Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies, 2013
  17. 17. U.S. literacy, Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies, 2013 Too few U.S. adults to count 
 read at advanced levels. 0 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 Nonliterate Below basic Basic Intermediate Proficient 12% 36% 34% 14% 4%
  18. 18. In this environment, 
 how do we 
 reach more readers? …
  19. 19. Write for Readability June 4-5 | Minneapolis | Bit.ly/Clear-Writing 
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