Even rocket scientists and brain surgeons don’t want it to be harder
It never fails.
When I talk in my writing workshops about the importance of making copy easy to read and understand, there’s always one person who can’t believe the advice applies to her.
“Are you kidding?” she gasps. “I’m writing to executives/pharmacists/school district superintendents/telecomm engineers/financial planners/horse breeders. These folks are superbly educated, brilliant and divine. There’s no way they’ll read anything that easy.”
So you think your audience wants it to be harder? Think again.
1. Start with average.
The average U.S. adult reading level is 8th grade, research shows.
Is your audience average? Yes: Target 7th- or 8th-grade reading level.
Not so average?
2. Then consider going lower. …
Some people are less literate than others. These demographics and preferences may affect your audience’s literacy levels, according to the world’s a huge global literacy test, the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies:
Education. Education is the most reliable predictor of literacy, according to OECD. On average, literacy scores increase by 10 points for each year a person remains in school. The lower your readers’ level of education, the easier your copy should be to read.
Age. One-third of Americans age 65 or older fall into the lowest level of prose literacy. According to the PIAAC, reading and numbers skills:
- Increased from the teenage years through the mid 40s
- Plunged some 25 points between the 40 to 54 age group and the 55 to 64 age group
- Dropped 30 more points between the 55 to 64 age group and the oldest adults
In most countries, older people have lower literacy skills. That’s partly because seniors, on average, spent fewer years in school than young people.
Writing for readers 65 and older? Make your copy easier to read.
Reach Real Readers
Want more techniques for getting people to read more of your message, read it faster, understand it better and remember it longer? If so, please join me at Rev Up Readability — our two-day clear-writing workshop on April 1-2 in Austin, Texas.
There, you’ll dive into the results of a massive global literacy test. You’ll get a reality check on how well your readers really read — so you can reach them where they are, not where you wish they’d be.
Plus: Find out how to Increase reading by up to 75% by making one simple change to your message.
Save $200 when you book before Dec. 31.