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The Fog Index

Posted on Sunday, December 30, 2012 at 6:14 PM

Assessing the readability of a Techcrunch.com excerpt.

This month, we examine an excerpt from a Techcrunch.com article ("Native Video Ads: Silicon Valley's Shiny New Thing or Industry Savior?" by Charles Gabriel). Let's take a look:

"The bottom line is that user trust is essential for generating the engagement that the native ad model is founded upon. A sure-fire way to lose this is by allowing blatant advertorials or shoddy content into the mix. In order for native advertising to be viable, brands have to focus on maintaining a high standard for their content. In addition to high production value and utility for the user, videos shouldn't be overloaded with logos or other branding. And if the video is a product review or other how-to content, experts should be just that -- experts -- and not thinly veiled pitchmen."

--Word count: 101
--Average sentence length: 20 words (21, 17, 20, 20, 23)
--Words with 3+ syllables: 9 percent (9/101 words)
--Fog Index: (20+9) x .4 = 11 (no rounding)

This month's sample already has an ideal Fog score (under 12). (Note: We did not include "overloaded" in our percentage of longer words, as it is a compound word.) Let's see what changes we can make, however, for improved readability:

"The bottom line: User trust is crucial for generating the engagement that the native ad model is founded upon. A sure-fire way to lose this is by allowing blatant advertorials or shoddy content into the mix. For native ads to work, brands must maintain a high content standard. In addition to high production value and user utility, videos shouldn't be overloaded with logos or other branding. And if the video is a product review or how-to, experts should be just that -- experts, not thinly veiled pitchmen."

--Word count: 87
--Average sentence length: 17 words (19, 17, 12, 18, 20)
--Words with 3+ syllables: 7 percent (6/86 words)
--Fog Index: (17+7) x .4 = 9 (no rounding)

We made light tweaks to the above sample. In doing so, we cut a few longer words and trimmed word count by roughly 13 percent. This brought the sample's Fog Index down from 11 to 9.

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