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The Fog Index

Posted on Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 10:02 AM

In the news: Assessing the readability of an excerpt from TheAtlanticWire.com.

In honor of the recent Academy Awards, we've selected a sample from TheAtlanticWire.com ("Seth MacFarlane Is Oscar Ratings Gold" by Richard Lawson) for this month's Fog Index installment. Here's the excerpt:

"So, we should probably expect more Oscar evenings like Seth MacFarlane's in the future. It may seem like a bleak prospect to some, but others are likely rejoicing. Still, we don't see MacFarlane repeating any time soon. Part of the interest in MacFarlane's presence was that it was so novel; an unguarded insult craftsman tasked with guiding his industry's most important and Respect-heavy evening. The trick probably wouldn't have the same punch the second time around. But yes, with a ratings upgrade like this one, especially among advertisers' favorite people, we shouldn't expect to see Whoopi Goldberg or Steve Martin back on stage any time soon."

--Word count: 106 words
--Average sentence length: 18 words (14, 14, 9, 27, 12, 30)
--Words with 3+ syllables: 8 percent (8/106 words)
--Fog Index: (18+8)*.4 = 10 (no rounding)

We have reviewed this sample carefully, and there isn't much we can do to improve upon this Fog score. We could make minor tweaks and replace some longer words to shave a point or two off the Fog Index, but there's really no need.

So what did this writer get right? For starters, he kept his sentences short. The writing sustains a nice rhythm without extended complex sentences. There are also very few longer words to fog up the writing. The writer is able to convey his ideas in a way that's both smart and succinct.

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