Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Printing and Journalism


As far back as Biblical times man has recognized the importance of simplicity in making himself understood. Today, during the time of world crisis, the need for clear communications becomes increasingly vital. Readability formulas and their use as a research tool have been widely-debated subjects among journalists and researchers during the past two decades. This study is concerned with the revised Flesch formula and its application to associated Press wire stories and locally written stories in South Dakota daily newspapers. Thus, it is first necessary to establish what readability means, what the formula measures, and what it does not measure. Literally, readability is the extent to which writing is understandable to the reader-the ease with which he is able to lift the writer’s meaning from the printed words. The second part of the formula is concerned with what Flesch “human interest” and estimate of the interest an article holds for the reader strictly in terms of writing style, not subject matter. Clearly, then, Flesch’s formula does not attempt to measure literary quality or subject appeal, but only two factors of writing style. Dr. Flesch himself is quick to place definite limitations on his formula. In 1948, the Associated Press hired Dr. Flesch as readability consultant. A series of bulletins were issued which emphasized the need for shorter sentences and simpler words. In his bulletins to staff writers Flesch issued the following table to be used by writers to check the readability of their own copy. The purpose of this study is to determine, by a comparison of readability and human interest scores of selected Associated Press wire stories and locally written articles in South Dakota daily newspapers, whether or not Associated Press writers score higher on the Flesch scales than local writers.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Readability (Literary style)
Newspaper reading


Includes bibliographical references



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University