Best of aea365 week: Lija Greenseid on Using a Readability Calculator

My name is Lija Greenseid. I am a Senior Evaluator, with Professional Data Analysts, Inc. in Minneapolis, MN. We conduct evaluations of stop-smoking programs. Smokers generally have lower education levels than the general population. Therefore, we want to make sure the materials we develop are understandable to smokers.

Rad Resource: Use a “readability calculator” to check the reading-level of your written materials. I have used this with program registration forms, survey instruments, consent statements, and other materials. Not surprisingly, the first drafts of my materials are often written at a level only grad students (and evaluators) can understand. With a critical eye and a few tweaks I can often rewrite my materials so that they are at an eighth-grade reading level, much more accessible to the people with whom I want to communicate.

A good Readability Calculator can be found here:

It provides you with both a reading ease score, and a number of different measures of the US school grade level of the text.

This blog posting is rated at a high-school reading level. Do you agree?

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Best of aea365 week. The contributions all this week are reposts of great aea365 blogs from our earlier years. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to . aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.


4 thoughts on “Best of aea365 week: Lija Greenseid on Using a Readability Calculator”

  1. Dear Lija Greenseid,

    Your blog can be easily understood in comparison to others blogs. I am currently a student at Texas A&M University-Central Texas. I grew up in a low-socio economic class. My parents were illegal immigrants and smoking was frowned upon, by my uneducated and very culturally knit family. I excelled academically, and I began to smoke not because I was uneducated, but rather because I faced a crisis. That crisis was my inability to pay for my college of choice. Smoking helps me cope with stress and it gives me a push to continue to withstand the challenges of working a full time job and going to college.



  2. Kaitlyn Osborne

    Good morning Lija,
    My name is Kaitlyn Osborne and I am currently finishing up my last semester at Texas A&M University-Central Texas. I was directed to your website by my professor in a Program Evaluation. I would have to agree with you regarding your statement about the majority of smokers have less education. Even within my family, the ones that are uneducated happen to be the smokers. Yes, there will always be an exception to this, however, from what I’ve seen, this appears to be true. I think it’s great that you’re doing what you can to educate more individuals of the harmful consequences that stem from smoking.

  3. Lija Greenseid,
    I to find that it is important to ensure that materials an organization such as yours creates are completely understandable to its intended audience. However I have to disagree that smokers are less educated compared to the rest of the population. Maybe in the 1960’s or 70’s they were less educated pertaining to the health concerns, but they are no less educated than the rest of the general population pertaining to general knowledge. I may have gave it a little more thought if you provided some hard evidence/statistic’s to support your clearly bias opinion of cigarette smokers. However I do like the fact and support the idea of using a “readability Calculator” to ensure literature is understandable at its intended audience.

  4. Hello Lija,
    My name is Aaron and I am a student at Texas A & M University Central Texas. I will be graduating this semester and am currently enrolled in a program evaluation course. Your article jumped out at me due to the fact that I was a regular smoker for close to fifteen years of my life. In my personal experience I had attempted to stop smoking numerous times with little success. Your comment about smokers having less education is true in my case. My time of smoking came to an abrupt end during my academic career. As I became more aware of general knowledge and specifically physiological knowledge it was an automatic response to relinquish the habit. You are definitely on the right track in helping some of the smokers gain a greater base of knowledge in the effects of being a smoker.
    Very Respectfully,
    Aaron Mandzak

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