Checking the reading level of a text in Microsoft Word

26 Feb
Update: 10/3/09: You can now check out my E How article (with pictures) that explains how to check the readability of text in Word 2007………………
This tip was passed on in one of my homeschooling groups and although I have seen this before in Word, I never paid too much attention, but its neat.
I pulled these directions out of Word 2007 because the person who posted did not go into enough details for me so I had to do a little fishing around. You can do this I am sure with earlier versions of word  but the method may be a little different, just probably look for how to get the bold stuff below. (update: there’s an EHow Article (not mine) that tells how to do this in Office 2003.)

Enable readability statistics

Do the following in one of these Microsoft Office programs:

  1. Click the Microsoft Office Button Button image, and then click Word Options.
  2. Click Proofing.
  3. Make sure Check grammar with spelling is selected.
  4. Under When correcting grammar in Word, select the Show readability statistics check box.
Note: The readability statistics that are referred to here are Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level test
“This test rates text on a U.S. school grade level. For example, a score of 8.0 means that an eighth grader can understand the document.”
The last item under readability (Flesch-Kincaid Grade level) in the picture below from Word shows the grade level: 2.3.
I spell checked the sentence: The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog. (to test it)
You simply open your document in word and run a spell check. If you get something, say from Project Gutenberg, etc, in html, just cut and paste into Word and run the spell check. The box pops up after the spell check is complete if you have selected, Check grammar with spelling option AND When correcting grammar in Word, select the Show readability statistics.


Posted by on February 26, 2008 in Reading/Literature


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9 responses to “Checking the reading level of a text in Microsoft Word

  1. Sumbul

    February 28, 2008 at 11:55 pm

    Assalamalikum Samirah,
    This is a great tool. I had been trying to find some way to decide if a book was good for a particular stage and this came just in time. I had a question. You mentioned Gutenberg. When (if) you print a book from Gutenberg how do you bind it to make it in the form of a book?

  2. talibiddeenjr

    February 29, 2008 at 6:42 am

    wa alaykum us salaam,

    Na’am, I have found stuff on the internet plenty of times that I wanted to use for reading class and was having a hard time determining if this was really appropriate for that age level or not. I know people say that there is really no third grade level book, etc, I guess it depends on the child, but this can help give you an indication if the material is in the ballpark, I think.

    Anyway, regarding the binding, do you have copy shops there? I know in the US they have shops like Kinko’s which makes copies and they do binding as well. I know they do spiral type bound and they might do hard back. Or you can try online. If you are willing to pay I guess for shipping, you can make your own books on there (just upload a file), have them bound and sent to you. I think as long as you use books like Gutenberg where the copyright is not longer valid you can make your own books like that from them (or write them yourself).

  3. Sumbul

    March 7, 2008 at 11:42 am

    Assalamalikum Samirah,
    I found this. Thought you might like it.

  4. Sandra

    April 10, 2009 at 2:36 am

    Do you guys know if there is a way to set the reading level, as supposed to just check which level it is? Thanks!

  5. Eddie Madera

    September 16, 2009 at 7:00 am

    I’m using a new version of 2007 Word. I cannot find a readability statistic. 😦 did you know how to find it? Please email me at with coherent direction. Thanks!

    • talibiddeenjr

      October 2, 2009 at 2:28 pm

      Sorry, this is kind of late, but in Word 2007:

      1. Go to the Windows button (round in the top left corner, forgot what they call it), click on Word Options at the bottom of the dialog box that pops up.
      2. In the left nav bar, choose “Proofing.”
      3. In the third section of this area, “when correcting spelling and grammar in Word”, the last check box reads “Show readability statistics,” check that box.
      4. Choose ok.

      That should do it. When you have finished proofreading, a box should pop up showing you the readability (among other useful information).

    • Gail

      March 14, 2013 at 8:08 pm

      The readability level was lightened and I could not check it off. Any suggestions?

  6. go~periscope!

    September 2, 2010 at 10:55 pm

    thanks so much! I needed this for an English essay.

    • talibiddeenjr

      September 15, 2010 at 6:10 am

      You’re welcome, glad it helped!

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