What’s your Fog Index?

The Fog Index measures the readability of your writing. As our text notes (on p. 51), the index assumes that the longer your sentences and the bigger your words, the more difficult it will be to penetrate your prose.

So this week I’d like you to take a typical example of your writing and test your Fog Index. If you haven’t been able to get a textbook, here are the directions:

  1. Find a typical sample of your writing — about 100 words
  2. Count the average number of words you use per sentence
  3. Count the number of “hard” words you used (that is, words of 3 or more syllables, excluding proper names)
  4. Add those two numbers together (Ex.: if you used 12 words per sentence and 10 big words,  you’d have: 12+10=22)
  5. Multiply that sum by 0.4 (Ex.: 22 x 0.4=8.8)
  6. The resulting number is your Fog Index — that is, the number of years of schooling someone would need to understand what you’ve written.

In your blog post, which is due Sept. 13 (s. 4) or Sept. 15 (s. 8), please include your “100 words,” your Fog Index calculations, and your Fog Index. Then write a paragraph about what you learned from this exercise: Were the results what you expected ,or not? Is your writing too wordy and complex…too simple…or just about right?


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