NN/LM PNR Dragonfly: Easy To Read? Here's How To Find Out.
nnlm at u.washington.edu
Thu Feb 7 15:26:59 PST 2002
EAsy To Read? Here's How To Find Out.
Consumer Health Coordinator
Find out if a web site is easy-to-read...using software you probably
Ability to read makes a difference in health care. One study "revealed
that those who read at the lowest grade levels (grades 0-2) had average
annual health care costs of $12,974 compared with $2969 for the overall
population studied." (Health Literacy, Report of the Council on
Scientific Affairs Ad Hoc Committee on Health Literacy for the Council on
Scientific Affairs, American Medical Association, JAMA Vol. 281 No. 6,
February 10, 1999, 552-7.)
A long-term way of addressing this problem is to improve the literacy
level of the population, but, right now, we need to ensure that people can
get plenty of easy-to-read materials.
In the RML we are often asked to recommend Web materials that are
easy-to-read. How do we find out? We asked a noted health educator and
have been following her advice ever since.
*1. Copy the text of the web page or pages. A sample will do; if a
discussion of diabetes is spread over 4 or 5 different pages, just copy
*2. Paste the text into a blank MS Word document.
*3. In Word, under "Tools" choose "Options." Click on the "Spelling and
Grammar" tab. Make sure that there is a check in the box next to "Show
readability statistics." Click "ok."
*4. Now, under "Tools" choose "Spelling and Grammar." Click "Ignore" as
many times as you have to in order to get past those spelling change
screens. The last screen you will get has a section entitled
"Readability." Passive sentences are harder to understand, so the
readability information includes a passive sentence tally. Then, note the
"Flesch Reading Ease" score and the "Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level."
For one particular project a community asked me to find web sites that
were no higher than 6th grade reading level, so I used this test and
eliminated any links to sites that came in at above 6.0 on the
Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level scale. Your institution may choose a different
grade level depending on the community it serves.
You won't be able to use this method with pdf files or with graphic
files, but it works well for text files.
Dragonfly is the newsletter of the National Network of Libraries of
Medicine, Pacific Northwest Region. Produced by NN/LM PNR, under NLM
Contract N01-LM-1-3516. Maryanne Blake, Editor, blakema at u.washington.edu.
Michael Boer, Publication Manager, boerm at u.washington.edu. Dragonfly
is transmitted by e-mail via HLIB-NW and PNRNews.
Dragonfly is available on the World Wide Web at:
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