Readability formulas are widely used to analyze educational texts; however, the use of these formulas has been widely criticized. Prominent among these criticisms are that classic readability formulas calculate readability using only sentence length and word length, and that writers should not directly consider readability formula factors such as word and sentence length when creating texts. This literature review attempts to identify specific writing and adaptation techniques that educators and educational writers can use to improve the comprehensibility of texts aimed at secondary-level readers. Advantages and limitations of readability formulas are discussed. Word length, sentence length, and reader characteristics are analyzed individually as factors affecting comprehensibility. Studies on text elaboration and simplification for L2 readers are discussed to gain further insight into word length and sentence length as variables affecting reader comprehension. An alternate tool for assessing text, Coh-Metrix, is discussed as a potential replacement for classic readability formulas, and specific Coh-Metrix measurements are evaluated.
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Bryant, E. A. (2019). Readability Formulas and Writing Technique [Masterʼs thesis, Bethel University]. Spark Repository. https://spark.bethel.edu/etd/96