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The Fog Index

Posted on Saturday, November 29, 2014 at 8:50 PM

Assessing the readability of a Digiday.com excerpt.

This month, we will calculate the Fog Index of a passage from a recent Digiday.com article ("This Woman Is Hearst Magazines' Secret Weapon" by Lucia Moses).

"Sharing content is another key part of the strategy. Other publishers aggregate news from elsewhere or open their sites to outside contributors to increase their publishing volume quickly and at low cost. With all of Hearst's magazines as well as newspapers to draw from, the publisher has a long way to go before it has to look to outside sources for content. Part of Lewis' mandate, then, has been getting Hearst to surface stories that can work across brands. Ultimately, the goal is to have 20 percent of a given Hearst site's content coming from another Hearst property."

--Word count: 98 words
--Average sentence length: 20 words (9, 23, 30, 17, 19)
--Words with 3+ syllables: 9 percent (9/98 words)
--Fog Index: (20+9)*.4 = 11 (no rounding)

We've hit upon an excerpt whose Fog Index falls within the ideal range. Still, perhaps we can do something to shave another point or two from the total.

"Sharing content is another key part of the strategy. Other publishers collect news from elsewhere or open their sites to outside contributors to increase their publishing volume quickly and cheaply. With all of Hearst's magazines, as well as its newspapers, to draw from, the publisher has a long way to go before it needs outside sources for content. Part of Lewis' mandate, then, has been getting Hearst to surface stories that can work across brands. The ultimate goal is to have 20 percent of a given Hearst site's content coming from other Hearst assets."

--Word count: 94 words
--Average sentence length: 19 words (9, 21, 28, 17, 19)
--Words with 3+ syllables: 7 percent (7/94 words)
--Fog Index: (19+7)*.4 = 10 (no rounding)

Sure enough, we were able to reduce the Fog score by one point with a few minor changes. We didn't want to reinvent the wheel when the excerpt was already quite clear and easy to read. Still, we eliminated a few longer words and made a few other tweaks to cut through a little more fog.

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