Why clarity and readability are vital for your content 

We all know someone whose text messages leave us wondering what they actually wanted to convey. The time it takes to read those messages and decipher their meaning is time we’ll never get back.

Now think of unclear enterprise content: Unclear content alienates readers. These consequences are true for unclear enterprise content as well: If you don’t write clear content, your website’s calls to action might fail because visitors don’t understand them. Purchase paths might break, conversion is at risk. A study by Portent revealed that “for B2C clients, around 13% of the conversion rate is dependent on the site’s readability score,” which is an important clarity factor. 

In technical communication, unclear content is dangerous. Unclear technical communication leads to product misuse, with sometimes fatal consequences. Not to mention expensive consequences — like bad translations and a higher customer service and support volume.    

What’s the difference between clarity and readability?

Clarity is the holy grail of communication. It’s about making sure your message is crystal clear, leaving no room for confusion or misinterpretation. When your writing lacks clarity, it becomes a barrier to effective communication within your company.

Readability is closely tied to clarity. It’s about how easily your audience understands your writing. A piece of writing with good readability flows smoothly, making it effortless for readers to grasp the message without getting bogged down by complex language or convoluted sentences.

It’s impossible to remember all the rules

As not even the best writer and editor has internalized all readability rules and best-practices, writing standards are your go-to solution to make sure your content is clear and readable. It makes sense to already consider them while writing and your editor should also have them available to make sure they don’t miss anything. 

Does your team have a style guide or are there writing standards for the whole company? If so, they probably contain guidance on readability. But the thing with style guides is: You have to actually use them. And as a writer in a fast-paced business, this is challenging, as research takes time and disrupts your writing flow. Readability checks help here. Let’s take a closer look at them — because there’s no universal way to check readability, but rather a multitude of metrics and tools.

Readability checking

Rules-based vs. metric-based approaches

To improve readability, there are two basic approaches:

  • Readability rules: Readability rules are linguistic rules that aim at improving readability and therefore clarity of a text. For example, such rules can restrict
    • the length of a sentence
    • the density of prepositional phrases used in a sentence
    • The use of passive voice 

These restrictions aim at reducing complexity.

  • Readability metrics: A readability check based on metrics calculates readability based on readability formulas that determine factors like sentence length, word choice, or average number of syllables per word. The resulting number indicates how easy or difficult it is for readers to understand the text. An example is the Flesch Reading Ease score, which correlates with the reading level needed to read and understand a text.

For wide-angled insights, you can combine both approaches. No matter which approach you use, readability checks only help you write better content, if they:

  1. Tell you which parts of your writing are be unclear or difficult to understand, and 
  2. Help you fix these parts. 

In general, readability checkers come as single-purpose tools, or they’re part of other solutions, like content governance software.

Is a readability checker enough for me?

The answer is: It depends. It’s similar to finding the best AI writing assistant for you. There are indicators that readability checkers — or AI writing assistants — might not be fulfilling your needs as an enterprise writer (anymore).

Two important signs that a readability checker might not be enough for you:

SignWhy is it important?
You have to follow your company’s writing standards in your daily work.Readability checkers take readability metrics into account, but they can’t cover your company’s style guide.
Your company’s style guide goes beyond readability.While readability is vital for all kinds of enterprise content, there’s more for companies to consider, like inclusive language, scannability, and more.

If at least one of two apply, consider choosing content governance software like Acrolinx instead of a single-purpose readability checker. 

Why you need automation to scale clarity and readability

Manual readability checks are time-consuming and impractical, especially for larger companies with massive amounts of content. Relying on manual processes alone is like trying to boil the ocean — it’s simply not feasible. As your company grows, so does the need for automated solutions that keep up with the demand.

How automated readability checks work

Content automation is a popular topic. To cite Semrush, it means ”using software to perform tasks like content creation, distribution, and management more efficiently and accurately.” But how does it work for readability checking? Let’s find out by the example of Acrolinx:

Acrolinx is enterprise-grade content governance software. Whether a company has written 100,000 words or 1 billion, Acrolinx makes sure each one reflects the corporate style guide. This means: You can digitize your entire style guide(s) with Acrolinx! So our software fully covers your writing standards around: 

  • Clarity 
  • Inclusive language 
  • Compliance with regional regulatory rules 
  • Tone of voice 
  • Consistency 
  • Preventing linguistic errors 

Additionally, the software checks your content against readability metrics like the clarity index and Flesch Reading Easewhich is different from the Flesch Kincaid Grade Level – and provides you with content analytics to monitor clarity and readability of your corporate content – even after publication. You could either use Acrolinx as a writer, as we integrate with dozens of writing tools, or you could use automation to cover all content that has been written in your company.

Yes, Acrolinx checks all of your company’s content — even nearly-forgotten legacy content. This is where automation comes into play. Let Acrolinx automatically check the quality of all written assets. Use it for automated readability and content quality checks, there are multiple use cases:

  • Baselining: Use automated readability checks with Acrolinx to determine the readability of a large amount of existing content.
  • Continuous checking: After setting a baseline, configure regular readability checking, so you always have an overview of how your content’s readability is developing.
  • Quality gates: Quality gates block poor content from being published by setting up quality gates. Set up for readability checking, a quality gate would block all content with a poor readability score, so you could improve it and reschedule it for publication.

By integrating seamlessly into your existing processes, Acrolinx helps you produce clear, readable and concise content that resonates with your audience. Say goodbye to sacrificing standards and hello to a new era of clarity and effectiveness in your company’s communication.

Interested in learning how Acrolinx improves the readability of your writing via automation or live writing assistance? Let’s talk!

Request a demo Discover how Acrolinx boosts your content.

Let’s talk