Most commonly available readability checkers were developed many years ago when computing power was far more limited. We are now in a position to explore the structure and logic of a text, and go beyond simply collecting statistics about words and sentences.
For example, the Coh‑metrix tool measures:
- narrativity, which reflects not only whether the text has a story-like sequence, but whether it deals with familiar things in everyday conversational language
- syntactic simplicity, which measures the grammatical structure of sentences
- word concreteness, which tests whether words evoke mental images that are easy to understand
- referential cohesion, which sees whether words and meanings overlap across sentences, forming threads that tie ideas together in the text
- deep cohesion, which is about the causal and other logical relationships that are expressed between events, processes and actions within the text, to form a coherent whole.
Coh-Metrix also offer a text-evaluation metric designed specifically for readers whose first language is not English. This measures 3 elements important to such readers:
- the ‘commonness’ of words in the text
- the similarity of syntactic structure from sentence to sentence
- the extent of content word overlap in adjacent sentences.