« Possible Gannett and Tribune Merger | Home | The Power of Observation »

The Fog Index

Posted on Friday, April 29, 2016 at 10:02 PM

Assessing the readability of a WashingtonPost.com excerpt.

This month's Fog Index excerpt comes from an April 28 WashingtonPost.com piece ("Amazon's Revenue and Profit Soar" by Sarah Halzack). Here's the text:

"Amazon continued efforts this quarter to strengthen its position across several retailing categories. With the launch in March of a nightly, QVC-like streaming show called 'Style Code Live,' it continued to try to make itself into more of a destination for fashionistas. And it expanded the products available for order with Dash buttons, which are small, Internet-enabled devices that can be placed in a pantry or laundry room so shoppers can stock up on items like granola bars, coffee or detergent with the touch of the button. In the so-called 'Internet of things' category, it joined forces with Brita to debut a WiFi-connected water pitcher that orders new filters automatically when needed."

--Word count: 112 words
--Average sentence length: 28 words (13, 29, 45, 25)
--Words with 3+ syllables: 11 percent (12/112 words)
--Fog Index: (28+11)*.4 = 15 (15.6, no rounding)

The clear culprit here is sentence length. The piece starts off on a clear note with a 13-word sentence. But the sentences that follow all equal or exceed 25 words, with the third sentence weighing in at a hefty 45 words. Let's try to cut a few points of Fog:

"Amazon continued to strengthen its position across several retailing categories this quarter. In March it launched a nightly QVC-like streaming show called 'Style Code Live" in hopes of attracting more fashionistas. It also offered more products for order with Dash buttons, which are small, Internet-enabled devices that can be placed in a pantry or laundry room. Shoppers can stock up on items like granola bars, coffee, or detergent with the touch of the button. In the so-called 'Internet of things' category, Amazon joined forces with Brita to debut a WiFi-connected water pitcher that orders new filters automatically when needed."

--Word count: 99 words
--Average sentence length: 20 words (12, 19, 25, 18, 25)
--Words with 3+ syllables: 9 percent (9/99 words)
--Fog Index: (20+9)*.4 = 11 (11.6, no rounding)

We were able to trim the total word count from 112 to 99. This reduced the number of longer words by 2 percent. Of greatest impact on our Fog score was average sentence length which we cut by 8 words, nearly one third. These modest changes yielded big results. The Fog Index of the excerpt fell from 15 to 11, by over 25 percent.

Add your comment.

« Possible Gannett and Tribune Merger | Top | The Power of Observation »