The Gunning Fog Index was developed in 1952 by Robert Gunning, a textbook publisher. Gunning observed that high school graduates were not able to read much of what was written in newspapers and business documents. He determined that the reason for their inability to read such material was the writing. He felt that many of the texts in newspapers and business documents was unnecessarily complex.
The Gunning Fog Index calculates the complexity of passages of text using an algorithm. For more information on how the index calculates the text, see the following websites:
The Gunning Fog Index: A Useful Tool for Targeting an Article to an Audience
The Gunning Fog Index (or FOG) Readability Formula
For an example, please copy the following paragraph and paste it into the text box at this link: Gunning Fog Index:
In analyzing technical communication, the reader has to navigate various features of a document, such as white space, proximity, alignment repletion, contrast, hierarchy, and language, all of which can impact the document’s readability. It is assumed that the user experience, coupled with user background, informs document design when technical communicators draft instruction manuals, procedures, feasibility reports, and white papers. However, companies have a tendency to ask engineers, rather than technical communicators, to write technical documentation, a practice that renders the documentation less readable to the lay person. For this reason, technical professionals and communication specialists should work side-by-side in producing documentation for users.
Gunning concluded that a piece of text should have a fog index of less than 12 in order to be readable to a wide audience.
What was the fog index of the paragraph above? Please give at least two reasons for its score, based on your understanding of how the Gunning Fog Index calculates the level of complexity.
Insert your own piece of writing into the text box. You don’t have to share your fog index here in this discussion topic. However, please write a few sentences on your impression of the Gunning Fog Index. Do you think it is a valid method of determining the complexity of a piece of text?
Feel free to use the Gunning Fog Index for your writing both in this class and in other classes.