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The Fog Index

Posted on Tuesday, December 30, 2014 at 12:47 PM

Assessing the readability of a Huffington Post excerpt.

This month, we analyze the Fog Index from a January 28 Huffington Post article ("The Internet of Things and the Race to Singularity" by Daniel Newman). Here's the excerpt:

"With the proliferation of smart devices, we are constantly under technology's gaze. We are looking for benefits and solutions to improve our quality of life and in the process, perhaps giving away too much information. While technology impacts us in all areas of life -- making our work easier and better, helping us manage our homes, or taking care of our health -- it is also exposing us to a huge wave of interconnectedness where we are constantly relinquishing the grip on our lives and handing over the reins to technology. As the Internet becomes more and more knowledgeable about us, it will be more accurate at knowing just about everything about us from our health to our feelings."

--Word count: 117 words
--Average sentence length: 29 words (12, 23, 54, 28 words)
--Words with 3+ syllables: 14 percent (16/117 words)
--Fog Index: (29 +14)*.4 = 17 (no rounding)

We have some work to do here if we want to cut the Fog. Sentence length is very high in this sample, with 117 words split into just four sentences. Let's see if we can cut through the fog and improve readability.

"With the spread of smart devices, we are always under technology's gaze. We are looking for ways to improve our quality of life and in the process may be giving away too much data. Technology affects us in all parts of life by making our work easier and better, helping us manage our homes, or taking care of our health. But it is also exposing us to a huge wave of interconnectedness where we are often handing over control of our lives to technology. As a result, the Internet will learn just about everything about us, from our health to our feelings."

--Word count: 102 words
--Average sentence length: 20 words (12, 22, 26, 24, 18)
--Words with 3+ syllables: 7 percent (7/102 words)
--Fog Index: (20+7)*.4 = 10 (no rounding)

Our Fog Index shrank from 17 to 10 with our edits. The major changes were in the last sentence, which we pared down for readability. We also split the 54-word sentence in two, thus bringing down our sentence length by 9 points. We also eliminated 9 longer words, cutting the percentage in half.

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