The FOG Index: The Guide to Understanding How Unreadable Your Words Are

Posted on September 19, 2011


Writing is an interesting form of expression, communication, and acknowledgement. There are a about a zillion words in the English dictionary, yet we are succumbed to only understanding a third( if we are lucky).You can tell a story by expressing vivid details or you can simply state the facts to report on it. Whether on not it sounds understandable  in one’s head, sometimes we as a writer forget to think about whether our readers understand anything we write. So let us cue in the FOG Index, a measurement of how readable one’s writing is. I already know most of my samples will not past the test. In most tests, the higher the scores, the better you do- in this instance, it is not the case.

A writing sample from English 1A:

      Once students hit college, their lives are ultimately reversed and twisted similarly resembling a balancing act in a circus. They soon experience the ticking time bombs attached to essays and term papers while trying to stay on top of their social lives and the job to pay for Top Ramen and Starbucks coffee for the week. As any college student living in the information age, there are plenty of resources in the palm of one’s hand; one trend that has been spreading throughout college campuses is students buying term papers online. As more students succumb to this, colleges are seeking ways to detect this upheaval of dishonesty and plagiarized work. 

– average number of words per sentence: 26

–  “hard words used” (more than three syllables): 9

– 26 + 9= 35

– 35  x 0.4 = 14 (# of years of schooling a reader needs to understand what you’ve written)

The goal: 7 or 8.

I see I have plenty more ways to go.


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