Copywriter, technical writer, translator (FR>EN, ES>EN, IT>EN), journalist

Is your document readable?

When you prepare a document using Microsoft Word, you’re actually doing two things:

  • writing content
  • formatting the content

Word offers many tools people can use to automate the formatting of their Word documents, thus saving them lots of time. But Word cannot help people who have not learned to write.

That said, Word can indicate when writers may need to improve their content. Aside from the fairly well-known spelling and grammar checks, Word can deliver these readability statistics for your document:

  • Flesch Reading Ease
  • Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level

Microsoft explains both scores on its website. Turn them on and run them on a document you wrote. It’ll offer food for thought.

Turn off spelling and grammar checking “as you type”

If you turned on readability statistics in Word, you might have noticed settings that let you check spelling and grammar “as you type.”

Turning these off may seem counter-intuitive. But doing so makes sense if you delve into the actual process of writing.

Ideally, writers get into a state of flow when they work. They build up momentum as they put their thoughts down on paper, and that momentum can carry them through plenty of writing.

Interruptions are the enemy of flow. Phone calls and knocks on the door do happen, and writers can only exert a certain amount of control over those. But onscreen interruptions? Writers can prevent most of those.

(Note: Email notifications are probably the worst onscreen offenders, so turn them off too.)

Word’s indications of spelling and grammar problems can prompt writers to play both writer and editor at the same time. Guard your momentum – stay a writer until you complete a first draft. Become an editor only after the first draft is finished. Run a spelling and grammar check once you’ve almost finished your revisions. Chances are, you’ll work more quickly this way.