We’re ready to unveil our latest project – Readability-Score.com!

Way, way back in 2004, I wrote a piece of code to analyze the readability of text using the various algorithms that had been developed for the task. I made a small but useful tool to analyse readability and threw it up on the site, not giving it a great deal of thought, and moved on to the next thing.

Thanks to the magic of Google, and your collective enthusiasm for readability scoring, that little tool turned out to be more useful than I expected. The traffic has grown and grown, and a steady stream of requests and ideas showed there was a real need for something that was even more powerful.

So, over the last few months I’ve been quietly working on something new, taking the original tool as a starting point and building on it. The result is Readability-Score.com.

What Is It?

First and foremost, the same tool that you were using free when it was part of this site is still free now. You can copy and paste, and score, your text all day long.

The additions are the new Premium tools. Premium is a subscription service which allows you to access more powerful versions of the same readability scoring software. You can use it to score URLs, score files, even bulk score text from a spreadsheet if you like. And the best bit is the price – this is a Pay What You Want service. The suggested price is $10/year, but you can specify how much you would like to pay when you sign up.

Subscriptions are handled through Gumroad. Renewals are automatic, and you can cancel any time.

What Are The Premium Tools?

We think the URL Scoring is going to be our most popular addition. Instead of copying and pasting text from another site, you can just drop in the URL, and it will go off, fetch the page, process the text and give you a score for the readability of the page. You can specify a single portion of the page (if you’re familiar with element IDs in HTML) and it will just score that part of the page – good for helping prevent navigation and footer elements from skewing your text scores.

There’s now a quick and convenient bookmarklet, for sending the URL of the page you’re browsing to Readability-Score.com.

Next, there is now a handy bulk processing feature, for people with lots of text or URLs to score. It takes a CSV, processes the text or URLs within it, and emails the results back to you.

Finally, there is a file processor, which you can use to analyse your Word documents and PDFs (more formats to be supported soon).

Anything Else?

One thing I’ve spent a lot of time on is the syllable counting in the new site. Syllable counting is a tricky prospect. Consider the following sentence, for example:

“I moped about, hopeful that my moped would be back on the highway soon”.

Sound innocuous? There’s a pair of homographs in there (two words, spelled the same, that sound different) – and these have different syllable counts depending on which of the two words you mean. Words can be almost identical, with the same order and number of consonants and vowels (and it’s that order you generally use to calculate syllable numbers) – “sired” has one syllable, while “sided” has two. Throw in prefixes, suffixes, plurals and compound words and you’ve got yourself a challenge.

Syllable counting is a minefield, with a small set of rules and a massive set of exceptions to handle.

That said, I’ve spent some time building and working through a batch of test data and have come up with a set of rules to take on the task. It helped tremendously having the work of Greg Fast (creator of Perl module Lingua::EN::Syllables) handy for reference, and setting up a decent set of unit tests allowed me to experiment with different rules until I found a combination that works. I expect to find more and more exceptions as time goes on, and the syllable counter rules can be expanded to account for them.

That’s All Folks

Readability-Score.com has been a long time coming, and I’m really excited to be able to show it off. I’d love to hear what you think – please let me know by email or in the comments below!

Dave is the founder of Added Bytes and has been building websites since the early 90s. He’s one of those fortunate people who gets to do what he loves for a living.