Statistics and readability scores
When you analyse your text using the Text Inspector tool, you will first be taken to a summary page which includes overall statistics alongside information on the text’s readability.
These statistics provide an excellent overview of the language level and complexity of a text and can be used for linguistic research purposes and advanced ESL teaching.
As these statistics play an important part in the other analyses on the website, we’ve ensured that you can correct them if you find any inaccuracies.
Here’s a short explanation of what each represents and what they can tell us about the text.
This tells you the number of sentences in your text.
You can also check this information by scrolling to the breakdown at the bottom of the page where you’ll find a detailed breakdown.
If the count is wrong, you can change it by clicking on ‘Amend’, changing the count, and then clicking ‘Update scores’ at the top of the page.
This tells you the total count of every word (token) in your text (excluding numbers).
For example, the sentence ‘The cat sat on the mat’ contains six tokens.
As before, if this isn’t correct, you can alter this by clicking on ‘Amend’, changing the count, and then clicking ‘Update scores’ at the top of the page.
This tells you how many unique words (types) appear in your document, excluding numbers.
For example, the sentence ‘The cat sat on the mat’ contains six words but only five types because the word ‘the’ is repeated.
Click on the ‘Amend’ button and then on ‘Update scores’ at the top of the page if you need to change.
This tells you how many syllables are within your text.
It does this by referencing data from the Carnegie Mellon dictionary, which includes over 133,000 words with accurate syllable counts. If a word is not available in the dictionary, Text Inspector provides an estimate of the syllable quantity.
However, as syllable counts are closely related to speech, they are heavily influenced by accent, dialect and variety of English and can vary.
Therefore, if you want to change the count, click on ‘Amend’, change the number then click ‘Update scores’ at the top of the page.
Syllable count is used to calculate other statistics such as Flesch Kincaid, so if you change it you will also change those counts.
Type/token ratio (TTR)
This measures the ratio of the number of different words (types) against the total number of words (tokens). The ratio is the number of types divided by the number of tokens.
Traditionally, this measure has been considered important in evaluating the difficulty of a text.
However, it has recently come under criticism because it is not stable over different lengths of text.
[See the discussion by Peter Robinson in his 2011 paper ‘Second language task complexity, the Cognition Hypothesis, language learning, and performance’.]
For this reason many language analysts prefer to use lexical diversity as a measure.
Average Sentence Length
This counts the average number of words in each sentence to two decimal places.
This counts the number of digits in your text.
Words with more than two syllables/ percentage
This tells you how many of the words in your text contain more than two syllables and what percentage of the total text this is.
This measure can help indicate how difficult a text is and can be used alongside other measures to determine the complexity of a text.
Average syllables per word / Average syllables per sentence / Syllables per 100 words
These measures tell you the average number of syllables per word, per sentence and per 100 words.
These measures help indicate the complexity and readability of a text.
These measures are not reliable for short documents (below 100 words) but can provide excellent insight into longer texts.
Text Inspector uses three popular methods to calculate the readability of a text, using some of the data highlighted above. These are:
→ Flesch Reading Ease
This measure is calculated according to a ratio of total words, sentences and syllables as described here. Easier texts will have higher measures (up to 120) while more difficult texts will score lower (below 40).
→ Flesch-Kincaid Grade
The Flesch-Kincaid grade measure is perhaps the most well-known and used measure of text difficulty and helps determine the reading level of a text.
It considers mainly words, sentences and syllables in a formula which you can see here.
The higher the score given, the easier a text is considered to be.
However, it should be remembered that text difficulty consists of more than just the elements considered by this measure.
→ Gunning Fog index
The Gunning Fog Index is another well-known measure of readability in English and text difficulty.
A score of below 12 suggests a text which could be read widely by the public whereas a score of below 8 indicates a very easy text.