# FOG INDEX How High Is Your Fog Index?

FOG INDEX
How High is Your Fog Index?

1. Find the average number of words you use per sentence. Take a fair sample of 5 to 8 sentences. Count clearly independent clauses as separate sentences. Example: "By and by I ran; I jumped; I hid." This counts as three sentences.
2. Calculate the percentage of words that are three syllables or more. Don't count proper names. Don't count verbs that make three syllables or adding -es or -ed.
3. Add these two figures. Example: if your average number of words per sentence was was 15, and the percentage of words three syllables or more was 12%, you would add 15 and 12 to get 27.
4. Multiply that sum by 0.4. The resulting number is your Fog Index, a rough measure of how many years of schooling it would take to understand what you have written. In our example, multiplying 27 by 0.4 equals a Fog Index of 10.8. The Bible, Shakespeare, Mark Twain, and TV Guide all have Fog Indexes of about 6. Time, Newsweek, and the Wall St. Journal average about 11. If you find your Index soaring into the teens (or higher!) --- beware --- you've lost most of your audience in the dense fog.

Copyright 1983. Hawkhill Associates, Inc. 125 E. Gilman St., Madison, WI 53703.

## Fog Index

The Fog Index is a proven method of analyzing written material to see how easy it is to read and understand. The steps you can use to calculate the Fog Index are outlined below. The numbers in the right column are based on this paragraph. When using these steps to analyze your writing, choose a sample that contains at least one hundred words. The "ideal" Fog Index level is 7 or 8. A level above 12 indicates the writing sample is too hard for most people to read.

1. / Count the number of words in the sample / 88
2. / Count the number of sentences / 6
3. / Count the number of big words (3 or more syllables) / 6
4. / Calculate the average sentence length. Divide the number of sentences into the number of words / 88/6 = 14
5. / Calculate the percentage of big words. Divide the number of words into the number of big words / 6/88 = 7%
6. / Add the avg sentence length to the % of big words / 7 + 14 = 21
7. / Multiply the result by .4 / 21 x .4 =
Fog Index / 8.4

## Fog Index - Policy Sample

This policy addresses access to and data residing in computerized administrative systems (hereafter referred to as the systems and the data) supported by Administrative Information Services (AIS). This includes but is not limited to Financial and Student systems. It does not include institutional reporting databases (i.e., FRDB, RRDB, SDRDB, etc.), departmental systems, hard-copy files, or systems or databases maintained by any unit other than AIS. It does not supersede applicable statutes that guarantee either the protection or accessibility of data.
The intent of this policy is to (a) maximize the strategic value of the systems and the data by promoting its effective use in management decisions, daily operations, and analyses being conducted by faculty, staff, and students, (b) provide clear assignment of responsibility for protection against unauthorized use, and (c) promote security measures for the purpose of maintaining the integrity of the systems and the data.
1. / Count the number of words in the sample / 148
2. / Count the number of sentences / 13
3. / Count the number of big words (3 or more syllables) / 33
4. / Calculate the average sentence length. Divide the number of sentences into the number of words / 148/13 = 11
5. / Calculate the percentage of big words. Divide the number of words into the number of big words / 33/148=22%
6. / Add the avg sentence length to the % of big words / 11 + 22 = 33
7. / Multiply the result by .4 / 33 x .4 =
Fog Index / 13.2

## Fog Index - Other Tools

Under the TOOLS Menu, Microsoft Word contains a word counter, grammar checker and thesaurus you can use to help simplify your writing style.

The grammar checker doesn't use the Fog Index. It uses three Flesch tools to analyze style:

1. Flesch Reading Ease (100 = easiest, 70-80 = average)

2. Flesch Grade Level (Assigns a grade level reader must have to understand

your writing, 6 = average)

3. Flesch Kincaid (Another formula for determining reader grade level)

The grammar checker will also report the percentage of sentences written in the passive voice. Acceptable percentages are zero, nothing, zip, nada or nil.

The grammar checker will also find typos that spell checkers miss, like transpositions, capitalization errors and double words.

You can use the Thesaurus to find simpler words or use it when you find yourself using the same words over and over and over and over.

The grammar checker reported the following for the policy sample on the previous page:

% passive - 14%

Flesch Reading Ease - 26.8

Flesch Grade Level - 17

Flesch Kincaid - 14.9

Fog Index Worksheet

Use Microsoft Word - Tools - Word Count for items 1 and 2 below.

Top of Form

1. / Count the number of words in the sample /
2. / Count the number of sentences /
3. / Count the number of big words (3 or more syllables) /
4. / Calculate the average sentence length. Divide the number of sentences into the number of words / (automatically calculated)
5. / Calculate the percentage of big words. Divide the number of words into the number of big words / (automatically calculated)
6. / Add the avg sentence length to the % of big words / (automatically calculated)
7. / Multiply the result by .4 / (automatically calculated)
Fog Index / (automatically calculated)

Bottom of Form

Keep It Simple

Don't use long words when short substitutes will do.

Don't Use---Use

accomplish---do

attempt---try

utilize---use

construct---build

deficiency---lack

equitable---fair

infrequent---rare

occurrence---event

terminate---end

requisite---required

Don't use words with extra or "padded" syllables.

Don't Use---Use

administrate---administer

discontentment---discontent

experimentalize---experiment

irregardless---regardless

orientated---oriented

preventative---preventive

Use compact substitutes for wordy phrases.

Don't Use---Use

on the order of magnitude of---about

in the nature of---like

in view of the fact that---since

give encouragement to---encourage

make an adjustment in---adjust

is equipped with---has

avail yourself---use

a majority of---most

take into consideration---consider

Large number of---many

Avoid tautology - the use of words that duplicate the meaning of a word or words already used.

Don't Use---Use

basic principles---principles

hollow tube---tube

mutual cooperation---cooperation

personal opinion---opinion

exactly equal---equal

consensus of opinion---consensus

past history---history

ask the question---ask

still continues---continues

http://www.fpd.finop.umn.edu/groups/ppd/documents/information/writing_tips.cfm