Table of Contents

Checking the Readability Level of your Training Documents

Last week I had an opportunity to present at the Online Learning Conference in Chicago. After my session was over, I snuck in to several other sessions, including Julie Dirksen’s session entitled The Science of Attention, Willpower and Decision-making for Better eLearning. The facts and figures she presented were compelling (especially the way in which she dispelled the “human attention span is only 8 seconds” statistic), but it was a Microsoft Word trick she mentioned in passing that I found most interesting and couldn’t wait to try.   

Unbeknownst to me, you can check the “readability” of your documents in Word and it will calculate a Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level Score for your materials.

While the simple fact that you can do this in Word is fascinating to me (who knew Word had such tricks??), it actually seems like it could help the training materials I put together in the future.

While I’ve not seen any credible research on it, I have often heard that a good rule of thumb is to write business materials at the 8th grade level for maximum understanding. Our learners are busy professionals and often have other things to think about – while we don’t necessarily want to “dumb down” out content, there’s no harm in keeping our training materials and business writing simple enough to be easily processed.

As you can see, Word has informed me that the above section, as-written, is currently being rated at a grade level of 15.3.


How can you magically check the reading level of your writing? On my computer I hit Fn + F7 (although on other computers you need not hit “Fn”, you just press F7).

Just for fun, the following is my attempt to bring the above text down from a grade level rating of 15.3:

Last week I presented at an elearning conference. When I was done presenting, I attended someone else’s session. I learned that you can check the grade-level rating for your writing!

I’m fascinated by this new trick in Word. I also think it will be helpful for writing future training materials. I’ve heard that the rule of thumb is that we should write for an 8th grade audience.


Hmmm. Maybe I went a little too simple. But hopefully you get the point.

Stumbling upon this trick made me wonder what other hidden gems may be embedded within Word, just waiting to be discovered.

If you’ve found other shortcuts or commands in Word (or PowerPoint or any other Office program), please share in the Comment section!

Articles Similar to Checking the Readability Level of your Training Documents

Nate Martin on Escape Room designs for training
Instructional Design
Brian Washburn

Instructional Design & Escape Room Design

If you’ve ever been to an escape room, you can observe what a group of highly engaged people look like for 60 straight minutes. Is there a way to harness escape room design elements and bring them into the world of corporate training?

elearning developer qa checklist
Lindsay Garcia

Elearning QA Checklist

Elearning developers should provide the first, and maybe the most thorough, quality assurance (QA) of an elearning module. Our team uses an elearning QA checklist

better learner certificates
Hannah Radant

Better Learner Certificates in Articulate Storyline

Learner certificates often appear at the end of a course to verify and recognize the achievement of a learner. Articulate Storyline has made it very easy to do this by adding a print slide trigger.
Today’s blog post outlines the steps to elevating this print feature to a lightbox slide. It includes how to build it and a downloadable file as well!

adding audio in articulate rise
Erin Clarke

5 Ways to Add Audio in Articulate Rise

What is one way to make Articulate Rise more engaging? Audio! Our team took on the challenge of exploring the options, benefits, and limitations in adding audio in Rise.

elearning easter eggs
Brian Washburn

Fun with Elearning Design: Hiding Easter Eggs

Planting an Easter Egg (or a dozen Easter Eggs) in your elearning project is next level engagement. Today’s blog post offers a variety of ways you can drop an unexpected, surprise element into your next project.

Subscribe to Get Updates from Endurance Learning

Brian Washburn, Author

Brian Washburn
CEO & Chief Ideas Guy

Enter your information below and we’ll send you the latest updates from our blog. Thanks for following!

Grow your L&D Career Today!

The Foundations of L&D course through the L&D Pro Academy provides the concepts and practical experience you need to grow your confidence and abilities as a well-rounded L&D professional.

Enter your email below and we’ll be in touch with an info sheet!

L&D Pro Academy

Find Your L&D Career Path

Explore the range of careers to understand what role might be a good fit for your L&D career.

Enter your email below and we’ll send you the PDF of the What’s Possible in L&D Worksheet.

What's possible in L&D

Let's Talk Training!

Brian Washburn

Brian Washburn
CEO & Chief Ideas Guy

Enter your information below and we’ll get back to you soon.

Download the Feedback Lesson Plan

Enter your email below and we’ll send you the lesson plan as a PDF.

feedback lesson plan
MS Word Job Aid Template

Download the Microsoft Word Job Aid Template

Enter your email below and we’ll send you the Word version of this template.

Download the Free Lesson Plan Template!

Enter your email below and we’ll send you a Word document that you can start using today!

free lesson plan template
training materials checklist

Download the Training Materials Checklist

Enter your email below and we’ll send you the PDF of the Training Materials Checklist.

Subscribe to Endurance Learning for updates

Get regular updates from the Endurance Learning team.