How to Use the Readability Statistics

by Brent Middleton



Ever hear of Readability Statistics? No? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. This little key feature in Word is probably one of the most underutilized facets of the program. Unless you used it to track the number of characters for an assignment in school, you probably never noticed it. We are talking about the little pop-up at the end of the Spell Checker.

Readability Statistics have three main categories: Counts, Averages, and Readability. The first two options are self-explanatory. Counts lists the number of words, characters, paragraphs, and sentences in your document, and Averages displays the average sentences per paragraph, words per sentence, and characters per word.

Readability makes things a little more interesting. It lists three calculations: Passive Sentences, Flesch Reading Ease, and Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level. While Passive Sentences simply shows the percentage of passive sentences found in your document (which should never be more than 3% for fiction), there’s more to the story regarding the Flesch/Flesch-Kincaid readability tests.

With the Flesch Reading Ease test, the higher the test score the easier the doc. is to read. The count is determined by comparing the number of syllables to the number of total words. The scale is widely used by both publications and governmental agencies. Time magazine, for example, scores roughly a 52 on the scale, while the Harvard Law Review scores in the low 30s. Meanwhile, a great number of government agencies have certain readability standards that official documents must attain.

The Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level test is used widely in education. The formula translates to the U.S. grade level via a 0-100 score, making it easy for teachers and librarians to determine the readability level of books and texts for students. The formula comes up with a number that translates to a grade level (i.e. a book scoring an 8.2 would correspond to the level of an 8th-grade student in the U.S.). The lower the score, the lower the grade level.

Although you might not use these tools in your everyday writings, they can be valuable when writing for a certain audience, whether it’s for a magazine, newspaper, or novel. For short story writers, I would suggest aiming for a range of 30-50 Flesch Reading Ease and 6-9 Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level. Click here to learn how to enable the Readability Statistics setting on Word or Office.

Fun fact: The readability scores for this article are 51.6 for Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease and 10.0 for Flesch- Kincaid Grade Level. Avail yourself of this free gift!

To read more on this topic, visit this site:

Brought to you by, the only writing school that gives every student a private tutor.


Flash Fiction Contest

Writing with Integrity

by Deborah Owen, CEO of Creative Writing Institute

Psalm 26:11 – But as for me, I will walk in my integrity…

I read that verse today and it touched my heart. I had to do some soul-searching.

There are all kinds of writers. I don’t mean good and bad ones. I mean honest and dishonest. Are you willing to take whatever comes your way?

Editing, for instance. If the book is full of filthy words, words that you wouldn’t dream of saying – will you edit it? Personally, I have enough trouble with my thoughts without feeding the beast – and the same goes for what I read, watch on TV, or write.

Did you know a lot of unethical work is floating around? The question is, are you willing to do it? If you’re just getting grounded in writing, I encourage you to define your ethics now and live by them.

In my last blog, I talked about a company who wanted me to advertise their illicit business of selling term papers to college students in a jam. It would have been so easy to look the other way, run the bloomin’ ad and sit back and collect the money – and for about one second, I was tempted, but I realized I would be a willing part of their dishonest endeavor.

Think about those who write that material – and the company selling it – and the dishonest students who buy it. Lies, lies, and more lies. Deceit that spins hundreds of thousands of greenbacks like Hurricane Florence. Beau-ti-ful green stuff to roll in. Or just pretend it’s salad and lace it with vinaigrette! But no. I couldn’t escape that little word – integrity. There are many kinds of writing deceit.

My inexperienced friend accepted a job that called for dozens of articles to be written as reviews, signed with various names and titled with various locations. She fell into the trap because the company was not upfront [but later, declined more assignments]. Question: have you ever read fantastic reviews, ordered the product, and it didn’t arrive or was pure junk? But what about those astounding reviews? Now you know where they originated.  (So, how can you know when reviews are genuine? They are probably genuine when mixed with others not so favorable.)

So here is the question: would you write false reviews? Would you write theses for cheating students? Would you accept dishonest work? Would you edit objectionable language you wouldn’t dream of speaking? Would you write porn, romance, or erotica that pulls ravenous minds and abusers of mankind into dark, secret places?

Where and how do you draw the line? Rate and comment below. I look forward to seeing your thoughts on the subject.

  • Free WRITING CONTEST starts tomorrow and ends October 31. Enter now!

Discrimination? Good or Bad?

by Deborah Owen

Do I discriminate? I sure do… and you should, too!

I’m sick of people’s attitude toward the word discrimination. It is not a vile word. It’s a good word, and if you don’t discriminate in most areas of your life, you haven’t taken much of a stand.

For example, I discriminate on business partners. Not long ago someone agreed to pay whatever my going rate of advertising was. I asked what content they wanted to advertise. They write theses for college students! In other words, they are not only selling a method of cheating, they are encouraging it. I told them I wasn’t interested.

I also discriminate in hiring tutors. If my tutors are not willing to give personal one-on-one tutoring to each of their students, they won’t find a home with my staff. If they aren’t willing to get personal and go the extra mile, they won’t work for me.

I also discriminate about where I live. My surroundings say a lot about who I am. No, I’m not content to live next door to someone who doesn’t cut their grass, pick up their trash, and keep their house in decent order.

I most certainly discriminate on those I select to be my friends, and I do so without apology. If you want to be my friend on Facebook, don’t smear four-letter words on my site. Don’t tout political arguments that do nothing but infuriate. Don’t post smutty pictures. Write decent content, offer love and a kind heart, be friendly, and I’ll welcome you with open arms.

I discriminate about the places I attend. We are known by the company we keep. Years ago, I learned one of my employees was a scam artist. After carefully investigating the facts for myself and personally discovering six people he had scammed out of life savings, I fired him and made a public announcement that blackballed me forever on the site where I made the announcement. That’s okay. No one has to wonder where I stand regarding his dishonest activities while under my employment.

Yes, I discriminate – about where I shop for groceries, what kind of vehicle I drive, where I go, who I associate with, how I dress and speak, and what I teach and advertise at Creative Writing Institute. I even discriminated when I chose my husband and set rules for our household. I discriminate every day of my life, and I’m proud of it.

Discrimination will cost you something, my friend. To put it another way… being WISE and concerned about your image will cost you something, but the reward of a clear conscience and good business ethics will go a long way to salve those wounds. Back in the day, we used to call them STANDARDS.

I also discriminate about what I write, the language I use, the point I make, and even who buys it. Everything I do says something about me.  I think that’s important.

Do you discriminate? Tell me how in the comment section and rate this article below.

(Sept. 28, 2018 update: I think I must have been grouchy when I wrote this. lol Sorry, but I’ll let it stand. It does make a point. Deb)

*Deborah Owen, CEO and Founder of Creative Writing Institute, the only school that gives every student a private tutor.

Reactivating this Blog

Like most people whose blog goes dormant, it happened one day at a time. Looking back, I see I haven’t run anything but contest ads since my son almost burned to death in a race car, my cousin who was once like a sister was found dead, and Mom died – all within six weeks of each other. To be honest, life has been little more than a blur since then. I wondered if my son would live. (He did, and is doing fine.) I wondered if my cousin laid there for days, crying and praying someone would come. (They didn’t.) I wondered how I would live without my dear mother. (I made it.) But I couldn’t cope under the triple tragedy. Two years of illness and doing what I absolutely must have brought me to this point.

It’s been 2 and 1/2 years. How can that be? It’s time to wake up and force myself into the living mode. Thanks for being with me as I start a new journey.

I just came across a letter I sent to a writing student who has had it tough for a long time and I want to share it because it tells who I am and what I am willing to do for you under the right set of circumstances. Here it is:

          I gave up my career to help new writers, thinking they would succeed if only they had the right kind of help. I was so wrong, but I had to learn that for myself. Most of them are darling people, but they are failures when it comes to writing because of one reason. They are quitters. You don’t have to be a good writer to make writing a full-time job. That isn’t the secret. The secret is that even a mediocre writer can succeed if they don’t give up. If they will just keep learning and be willing to do entry-level jobs, they will make it.
           Time is a precious commodity. When it’s gone, you can’t bring it back, so now I give most of my time to the few writers who are really trying or really having a tough time. It has become a ministry. So, when I come across someone like you, it’s like a breath of spring air and I don’t feel like I’m wasting my efforts. I will give you anything you need: prayer, love, encouragement, emails, texts, phone calls, Skype, information, my personal files, etc. I am very happy to be of assistance because YOU are my reward. As time passes, remember this and pass it forward.
          That’s the end of the letter, and I’ll have to keep indenting since the formatting won’t allow me to double space now.
          So, to bring you up-to-date, lots of things are popping right now. Creative Writing Institute has a free Flash Fiction contest coming up September 15 – October 31, and we’re celebrating our 10th anniversary by opening a brand new site at Very exciting!
          Thanks for taking your precious time to read my thoughts. If you enjoyed it at all, please like it. A comment would bring a delirious smile.  🙂
          Have a great evening, day, or whatever it is on your corner of the planet. See you next time.
Deborah Owen


A Short Story Contest!

Thanks very much! Deb

Writing Wicket

Creative Writing Institute’s Short Story Contest offers a fabulous opportunity for publication, in addition to cash prizes.

Prizes: $200, $100, $50. First place winner may choose a free, tutored writing course in lieu of $200 prize.

Top five winners and ten Judge’s Pick stories will be published in 2017 anthology along with best-selling guest writers and stories written by CWI staff. (Available December.)

Word limit: 2,000 words.

Themed, unpublished story must include this sentence: “I am completely and utterly lost.” 

No swearing, profanity, explicit sexual scenes, graphic violence, etc.

Contest closes midnight, EST, August 31, 2017. Only five dollars to enter.

Join the fun!

See full set of guidelines and book cover at Direct questions to head judge, Jianna Higgins, at

View original post

Creative Writing Institute Short Story Contest 2017



This is the greatest opportunity for publication you will ever have.

Welcome to Creative Writing Institute’s annual short story contest. This is going to be our biggest and best contest yet. In a small fee-based contest like this, the competition is much less and your chances of winning are much greater. Our fee is the price of a Starbucks’s cup of coffee and it helps subsidize our nonprofit charity contest, so invest in us and at the same time invest in yourself.

Publication: we will publish the first, second and third place winners, two honorable mentions, and ten additional Judge’s Pick stories in our fifth annual anthology, along with best-selling guest authors and stories written by Creative Writing Institute’s staff. Enjoy the competition. Join the fun!

Judge’s Pick: you may be asking what a “Judge’s Pick” story is. That is a story that impressed a judge so much that he/she nominated it for publication, even though it was not a winning entry. A very high commendation for the author!

First place:

* $150 and Gold eMedal OR a free, privately tutored writing course valued at $260

Second place:

* $100 and Silver eMedal OR $200 applied toward a privately tutored writing course

Third place:

* $50 and Bronze eMedal OR $125 applied toward a privately tutored writing course

Fourth and Fifth place:

* Honorable Mention eMedal

In addition, we will publish ten Judge’s Pick stories.

For the First Time — the Lucky Draw!

We would like to express our gratitude to Microsoft and TechSoup for donating a Norton AntiVirus Package for five computers, valid for one year. *The Norton Package will only open in the USA, but that’s fine. You have 15 other opportunities to win!

eMedals: You will love the classy eMedals. Make them any size you want. Post them on your site and on social media!

Revealing our Cover: for the first time, we are revealing our cover for the next anthology, which will be titled LOST. (You can see the enlarged picture at

The theme sentence is below the picture. Be sure to use it in your story.


“I am completely and utterly lost.”

  • Open genre
  • One prize per person
  • Entry fee: $5 per submission
  • Submit each story individually
  • Word limit is 1,500 to 2,000 words.
  • Story may not have been published before.
  • No swearing, profanity, explicit sexual scenes, graphic violence, etc.
  • Your story must include this theme sentence: “I am completely and utterly lost.”
  • Winners agree to minor editing rights and will grant first, non-exclusive, electronic rights.
  • All Rights return to the author upon publication.
  • Accepting submissions until August 31, 2017, midnight, USA Eastern Standard Time.
  • Apply the theme sentence to an emotional state, a physical location, fighting illness, or any other application that comes to mind.
  • Copy and paste your document into

Do NOT send your submission as an email attachment. We will not open it. Direct questions to head judge Jianna Higgins, at