If you're running a music or entertainment blog, you probably want to aim for relatively low numbers to hold the attention span of your MTV-Generation audience. Cut the commas, and turn those long sentences into short, choppy ones. Cut the commas. Shorten the sentences. This review of Kings of Leon's Aha Shake Heartbreak at RollingStone.com got a 3.67 on the Flesch-Kincaid grade level index, and a 6.33 on the Gunning-Fog index, both of which estimate the number of years of schooling required to understand the written material. This Pitchfork review scores a 6.76 and a 4.29. Fluxblog gets a 7.86 and a 4.88. Contrast with this article on competition in architectural design at Ground Zero, from the NY Review of Books, gets a 17.00 and 12.00.
It's a fun exercise to experiment with different types of pages. I entered the url for today's poem at Poetry Daily, and the Flesch-Kincaid grade was less than 5, which means that a fourth grader should have no trouble understanding it. The following passage from Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass was also graded at less than 5:
1. One’s-Self I Sing
ONE’S-SELF I sing—a simple, separate Person;
Yet utter the word Democratic, the word En-masse.
Of Physiology from top to toe I sing;
Not physiognomy alone, nor brain alone, is worthy for the muse—I say the Form complete is worthier far;
The Female equally with the male I sing.
Of Life immense in passion, pulse, and power,
Cheerful—for freest action form’d, under the laws divine,
The Modern Man I sing.
4th grade, sure.
I was compelled to find an online readability tool by this post at First Draft by Tim Porter.