Calculating Reading Level With the Flesch-Kincaid Scale

closeup of tablet used for reading

Cultura / Getty Images

Are you writing at an appropriate grade level? There are several scales and calculations used to determine the readability or grade level of a piece of writing. One of the most common scales is the Flesch-Kincaid scale.

You can determine the Flesch-Kincaid reading grade level of a paper you’ve written easily in Microsoft Word. There is a tool for this that you access from your menu bar.

You can either calculate an entire paper, or you can highlight a section and then calculate it.


  1. Go to TOOLS and select OPTIONS and SPELLING & GRAMMAR
  3. Select the box SHOW READABILITY STATISTICS and select OKAY
  4. To generate the readability statistic now, select SPELLING AND GRAMMAR from the toolbar at the top of the page. The tool will go through its recommended changes and provide readability statistics at the end

You can use a formula to calculate the Flesch-Kincaid reading level on your own. This is a good tool to determine whether a book is going to challenge you

Calculating Readability of Your Writing

  1. Select a few paragraphs to use as your base
  2. Calculate the average number of words per sentence. Multiply the result by 0.39
  3. Calculate the average number of syllables in words (count and divide) Multiply the result by 11.8
  4. Add the two results together
  5. Subtract 15.59

The result will be a number that equates to a grade level. For example, a 6.5 is a sixth-grade reading level result.