If they won’t read it, why write it?

Services for Real Estate Pros with Marte Cliff Copywriting

When you take the time to write – whether it’s a blog post, a prospecting letter, or even a property description – you want people to read it. After that you want them to understand it and be motivated to act.

But the first task is getting them started on the first sentence.

You already know about Rule #1 – Never begin with “I” or “We.” So let’s go on to what I’ll call Rule #2 – Make it look inviting.

That means using a reasonable font size and breaking your paragraphs into small bites. Small print and long paragraphs look like encyclopedia entries – or dry text book pages. You know, the things we read only if we really want the information – or need to learn it to pass a course.

If the font is small and paragraphs are long, the reader has to be pre-motivated and interested in the topic to even begin reading.

After that, reading ease comes into play.

Just this morning I forced myself to read an Active Rain post that looked like a textbook entry. In addition to the small fonts and long paragraphs, it was crammed with long words – many of them that could easily have been replaced with short words. For instance, “We utilize” could have been “We use.”

Words like “discerning, proactive, instrumental, and empowered” probably don’t belong in a piece aimed at consumers.

It’s likely that everyone here in the Rain could understand the whole post, but writing in that manner is a poor habit for anyone who needs to appeal to the general public.

We’ve talked many times about striving for a 7th grade reading level – or less. When I checked that post, the grade level was 13.3.

And that brings me to the reason for this post – I found somewhere to check the grade level!

My old Word program had a button right there – it was easy to check grade level and reading ease with just one click. The new one doesn’t have it.

So today I went searching and found https://readability-score.com/. That one gave me an instant answer and included plenty of information on word length, paragraph length, etc.

Then I found http://www.thewriter.com/what-we-think/readability-checker/, which demanded my email address and then rejected it. I suppose they wanted me to sign up for an account.

I didn’t want to do that, so didn’t get their score. However, the rest of the page had good advice about how the scores are compiled. If your writing includes several long, easily recognized and understood words (elephant, for instance), it might score a higher grade level, but it will still be just fine for the average reader. They also point out that there are times when a long sentence with a few commas is easier to understand and flows better than several short, choppy sentences.

Do pay attention to the grade level. If you’re up there at college level, make some changes. But if the level is 8 or 10 and you can see that all the words and sentences could be easily read by the average 7th grader, don’t worry about it.

P.S. In my search for checkers, I came across instructions for accessing it on Word, and it does work. You just have to go through all of their suggestions for correcting grammar errors before it pops up.

If you haven’t already found it, go to file, click on options, then on proofing. Scroll down the page and you’ll find a box you can check to show grade level and reading ease.




Image courtesy of tiniroma at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Re-Blogged 2 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Debbie Reynolds 02/23/2017 04:52 PM
  2. Melissa Jackson 03/27/2017 11:01 PM
Real Estate Sales and Marketing
Real Estate Rookie
Addicted to Active Rain
Vets serving Vet's real estate needs
real estate marketing
real estate blogging
real estate writing
real estate marketing grammar
real estate grammar

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Wanda Kubat-Nerdin - Wanda Can!
Prado Real Estate South - St. George, UT
So Utah Residential, Referral & Relocation REALTOR

Thank you for the writing tips Marte. I will check out  https://readability-score.com/ and see what it offers. Perhaps it will improve my writing score. Who knows?

Jan 30, 2017 02:02 PM #27
Melissa Spittel
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Westminster, MD
"Achieving Results Together "

There are plenty of people who like to flaunt their intelligence by using big words when they write. Better to write for the intended audience with easy to understand words. 

Jan 30, 2017 05:06 PM #28
Endre Barath, Jr.
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices - Beverly Hills, CA
Realtor - Los Angeles Home Sales 310.486.1002

Marte, your point about writing at an eight grade level....ouch that is a bit high if you asked me.... do you remember there used to be a TV show: are you smarter than a 5th grader? Well many could not give the right answers:))just kidding, great advice, Endre

Jan 30, 2017 06:01 PM #29
Carol Williams
Although I'm retired, I love sharing my knowledge and learning from other real estate industry professionals. - Wenatchee, WA
Retired Agent / Broker / Property Manager

Good morning Marte Cliff .   The older I get, the more important font size is (the large kind, that is).  LOL    I was just thinking about the "readability" test the other day and it's a good barometer.   I try to write like I talk, so not sure what grade level that is.   Thanks for another excellent post.  Great Feature!  

Jan 31, 2017 06:18 AM #30
Carol Williams
Although I'm retired, I love sharing my knowledge and learning from other real estate industry professionals. - Wenatchee, WA
Retired Agent / Broker / Property Manager

Oh... and thanks for the link to the readability checker.  I bookmarked it for easy access.  Have a great day, Marte.

Jan 31, 2017 06:19 AM #31
Thomas McCombs
Century 21 HomeStar - Akron, OH

You are write on!

I try to follow your suggestions.

Thanks for the help!

Jan 31, 2017 08:14 AM #32
Gene Mundt, IL/WI Mortgage Originator - FHA/VA/Conv/Jumbo/Portfolio/Refi
NMLS #216987, IL Lic. 031.0006220, WI Licensed. APMC NMLS #175656 - New Lenox, IL
708.921.6331 - 40+ yrs experience

After initially visiting the site you offered, Marte Cliff ... I went searching for other tools too. I offer lots of info, data, and directions to my clients and my readers via my blog.  It doesn't do anyone any good if it's not easily understood.  I'll definitely be using what I found ... 

Really appreciate your providing the URL and the inspiration,


Jan 31, 2017 10:17 AM #33
Mike Cooper, GRI
Cornerstone Business Group Inc - Winchester, VA
Your Neighborhood Real Estate Sales Pro

Excellent info, Marte. I also appreciate Robin's guide for Word. Every tool helps us be better communicators. 

Jan 31, 2017 06:41 PM #34
Sham Reddy CRS
H E R Realty, Dayton, OH - Dayton, OH

Definitely something to pay attention to when you write!

If you’re up there at college level, make some changes. But if the level is 8 or 10 and you can see that all the words and sentences could be easily read by the average 7th grader, don’t worry about it.

Feb 01, 2017 04:03 AM #35
Michael J. Perry
KW Elite - Lancaster, PA
Lancaster, PA Relo Specialist

I just will not read a small font long winded blog post !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Feb 01, 2017 04:33 AM #36
John M. Acaron, CMI, MRSA
Master Home Inspector & Master Mold Assessor

Great point!

Feb 01, 2017 06:59 AM #37
Janna Scharf
Keller Williams Realty Coeur d'Alene - Coeur d'Alene, ID
Coeur d'Alene Idaho Real Estate Expert

Somehow I have missed the grade level thing, but I know you're right.  Now for fun I'm going to go check the grade level of some of my stuff.  Thanks!

Feb 04, 2017 06:54 AM #38
Jan Green
Value Added Service, 602-620-2699 - Scottsdale, AZ
HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN

Very good suggestions!  I love the readability-score.com suggestion as I've noticed when I post blogs on my website, they have the review of my site as to readability, but no suggestions to help me.  Thanks! 

Feb 05, 2017 10:28 AM #39
Shahar Hillel
Augusta Financial Inc. - Stevenson Ranch, CA
Mortgage Consultant, Loan Officer.

Thank you for the post, some very good tips.


Feb 23, 2017 05:22 PM #40
Lou Ludwig
Ludwig & Associates - Boca Raton, FL
Designations Earned CRB, CRS, CIPS, GRI, SRES, TRC


Interesting post . . . . thanks for sharing your insight.

Good luck and success.

Lou Ludiwg

Feb 23, 2017 06:30 PM #41
Sally K. & David L. Hanson
EXP Realty 414-525-0563 - Brookfield, WI
WI Realtors - Luxury - Divorce

Interesting gauges for understanding...and worth a bookmark to check them out as time permits.

Feb 24, 2017 02:51 AM #42
Sheila Anderson
Referral Group Incorporated - East Brunswick, NJ
The Real Estate Whisperer Who Listens 732-715-1133

Good morning Marte. There is a lot here to think about but the basic for me is that if the font is too small, I'm done.

Feb 24, 2017 06:21 AM #43
Kasey & John Boles
Jon Gosche Real Estate, LLC - BoiseMeridianRealEstate.com - Boise, ID
Boise & Meridian, ID Ada/Canyon/Gem/Boise Counties

I had no idea you could check grade reading level.  Interesting tip. Thanks! -Kasey

Feb 26, 2017 12:32 PM #44
Sandy Padula and Norm Padula, JD, GRI
HomeSmart Realty West & Geneva Financial, Llc. - Carlsbad, CA
Presence, Persistence & Perseverance

Marte Cliff Thank you for the informational post and I have <Bookmarked> it for further study.

Mar 28, 2017 05:14 AM #45
Eva B. Liland with Century 21 Doug Anderson
Century 21 Doug Anderson - Lancaster, CA
Glad to be of Service

I had a vague idea but never looked into it until now. readability-score.com is my next stop this morning!

Mar 28, 2017 06:06 AM #46
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