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The Fog Index

Posted on Tuesday, February 27, 2018 at 1:26 PM

Assessing the readability of a Forbes.com excerpt.

This month's Fog Index sample text comes from a February 25 Forbes.com article ("The Case Against the 100-Hour Workweek" by Stephanie Denning). Here's the text:

"The first 100-hour week I worked was thrilling. You're overcome with a feeling of being valued. You think: I'm doing important work! That feeling, unfortunately, largely wears off by week two. Week three, you start to devolve into a shell of your former self due to sleep-deprivation. By the fifth consecutive week, your body and mind accept this as the new normal. A 100-hour workweek sounded impossible to me until I was thrown into one. Your body and mind eventually acclimate. But try it for too long and you inevitably hit a wall. That wall is known as burnout."

Note: This month we did not italicize longer words because the sample contained italicized text.

Word count: 99 words
Average sentence length: 10 words (8, 8, 6, 9, 16, 15, 13, 6, 12, 6)
Words with 3+ syllables: 8 percent (8/99 words)
Fog Index: (10+8) *.4 = 7 (7.2, no rounding)

This is one of the lowest Fog scores we've found out in the wild. The sample is an ideal size at roughly 100 words. We knew before we calculated that our score would fall well within ideal range because the sample contains 10 sentences, a high number for a 99-word excerpt. We also have a fairly low number of longer words, just 8 in the entire sample.

The author pauses in places that would feel natural if she were speaking out loud. This rhythm naturally splits the text into more sentences than we might find in academic or technical writing. (You may remember that, in past issues, we've seen sentences that topped 50 words!) In other words, the informal first-person style naturally controls the Fog Index in this case.

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