Disappearing Readability Statistics

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated February 4, 2019)

8

As a writer, Karl needs the readability statistics as a guide for his work. He has checked the appropriate box under the proofing options ("Show Readability Statistics"). It worked for the first few uses then quit; the readability statistics no longer appear. Karl has unchecked the option, rechecked it, hit OK, and even restarted his computer, but to no avail. He wonders how he can get the readability statistics to reliably appear.

The biggest reason why the readability statistics might not appear is because Word is configured incorrectly. To understand how to configure it correctly, it is best to display the settings:

  1. Display the Word Options dialog box. (In Word 2007 click the Office button and then click Word Options. In Word 2010 or a later version, display the File tab of the ribbon and then click Options.)
  2. At the left side of the screen, click Proofing. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The Proofing options in the Word Options dialog box.

Based on the options in the dialog box, you might believe that only one of them controls the display of readability statistics: the Show Readability Statistics check box. This is not so if you are using earlier versions of Word. In order for them to appear, you also need to make sure that the Check Grammar with Spelling option is selected.

The reason for this is because readability statistics are calculated only when a grammar check is completed, and a grammar check is completed only when the checking is turned on as described here.

If you are using Word 2019 or Word in Office 365, you will notice that the Check Grammar with Spelling option is no longer available under the Proofing options in the Word Options dialog box (see Step 2 above). (See Figure 2.)

Figure 2. The Proofing options in the Word Options dialog box.

In order to display the Readability Statistics in later versions of Word, make sure the Show Readability Statistics check box is selected under the Proofing options in the Word Options dialog box. You will then need to display the Review tab of the ribbon and click Check Document in the Proofing group. Word displays the Readability Statistics for the document while also displaying the Editor pane. (See Figure 3.)

Figure 3. The Readability Statistics data.

You'll also want to check to make sure that you have spelling and grammar checking turned on in the languages area. Display the Review tab of the ribbon, click Language, then choose Set Proofing Language to display the Language dialog box. (See Figure 4.)

Figure 4. The Language dialog box.

If the Do Not Check Spelling or Grammar check box is selected, then a grammar check is never done, and the readability statistics never computed.

Note, too, that the language settings apply to selected text (whatever is selected when you display the Language dialog box), but they can also apply to styles. You may need to check your styles to make sure that spelling and grammar checking is not turned off for the styles you want to check.

There are some additional scenarios under which Word won't compute readability statistics, but those probably don't apply to Karl's situation. You can find more information about those additional scenarios at this Knowledge Base page:

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/292069

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (11554) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Office 365.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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What is four more than 8?

2018-12-11 16:07:24

Mike

Allen, hi,
We've been using those features, exactly that way, for years now; currently Windows 10 (Enterprise on one machine, Home on another), Office 2016 Pro Plus on both. Suddenly the Flesch-Kincaid and such are gone! Spell check only shows spelling, and then grammar, in the toolbar menu that pops up, but no buttons to select and view readability.

We've checked all of the settings, and even a KB article that was supposed to explain why this might happen, but, so far, no joy. (Which a good readability tool would probably mark as slang...)

Help?


2018-08-17 09:15:04

Skip

When I get to Word Options, the option for "Check grammar with spelling" is not there. Thus, I can no longer get readability stats. Microsoft recently updated my programs, and since then I've not been able to get the readability stats.


2018-08-16 15:34:15

Sean Brodrick

No, that's not it. Word changed in an update, and it will show the readability score once, then not again.


2016-01-23 06:03:59

Don Jax

Suddenly, the Readability Statistics graphic won't print the data. The graphic box appears, but the data is not present. Have you any suggestions?


2015-04-15 10:27:19

Nanci

I also get 'good to go' with no readability stats.


2015-02-07 13:49:21

Cecile McKee

The "Do Not Check Spelling or Grammar" in Language is greyed out. I can't apply this advice. But I've tried everything on every web-based answer to this problem that I can find. None has worked so far. What's wrong with Word?


2014-06-15 18:22:50

Veronica Wilbur

I followed everything step-by-step as above -- even all those 'hidden' places. I still get the following
"Spelling and grammar check complete. You are good to go!" Still no readability. In case someone is reading this email any thoughts?

Sincerely,
Veronica Wilbur


2013-12-12 16:40:37

susan reid

This was JUST the answer I needed. I use Word every day but am not "proficient" in all the tools by any stretch.
The scenario you describe above is exactly what happened to me. Readability stats are key to my work. But all of a sudden they turned off!! 4$%^&##!!!!!
I was engaging in that "insanity" of doing the same thing over and over expecting maybe this time they would turn back on. Would NEVER have thought to look under Language also.
Thank you, thank you, thank you!


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