« Saving the Newsstand in 2017 | Home | Creating the Perfect Lead, Part II »

The Fog Index

Posted on Friday, December 30, 2016 at 3:27 PM

Assessing the readability of an Engadget.com excerpt.

This month's Fog Index sample text comes from a December 28 Engadget.com article ("FDA Issues Final Guidance on Medical Devices' Cybersecurity" by Mariella Moon). Here's the passage, with longer words in italics for reference:

"The Food and Drug Administration has issued its final guidance on protecting medical devices like pacemakers and insulin pumps from cyberattacks. To start with, it wants manufacturers to boost their cybersecurity measures by incorporating a way to monitor and detect vulnerabilities into the products they make. The FDA also wants them to establish a process for receiving information about potential vulnerabilities from cybersecurity researchers. If they do detect any exploitable flaw, the agency wants the companies to assess the risk it poses to patients. Finally, it wants the medical device makers to issue software patches to fix any vulnerability it finds."

--Word count: 101 words
--Average sentence length: 20 words (21, 25, 18, 20, 17)
--Words with 3+ syllables: 20 percent (20/101 words)
--Fog Index: (20+20)*.4 = 16 (16.0, no rounding)

For the Fog Index to fall within ideal range, we need to cut at least 5 points from the score. (Remember, the ideal score is below 12.) Sentence length and longer word count figure equally into the score, so let's see if we can reduce both. Here's our attempt:

"The Food and Drug Administration has issued its final guidance on protecting medical devices like pacemakers and insulin pumps from cyberattacks. To start with, it wants device makers to boost cybersecurity by observing and detecting vulnerabilities in their products. The FDA also wants them to create a process for receiving data about likely hazards from cybersecurity researchers. If they do detect any exploitable flaw, the FDA wants the companies to assess the risk it poses to patients. Lastly, it wants device makers to issue software patches to fix any bugs it finds."

--Word count: 92 words
--Average sentence length: 18 words (21, 18, 18, 20, 15)
--Words with 3+ syllables: 10 percent (9/92 words)
--Fog Index: (18+10)*.4 = 11 (11.2, no rounding)

We had to wrestle with the text a bit to cut the 5 points. The sentences were divided in a logical fashion, so it did not serve us well to try and split them up. Minor trimming cut 2 points from the average sentence length. That left us to pare down the longer word count by half, from 20 percent to 10 percent. This helped us cut the Fog from 16.0 to 11.2 in the end.

Add your comment.

« Saving the Newsstand in 2017 | Top | Creating the Perfect Lead, Part II »