Test the readability of your newspaper in town

Title: Test the readability of your newspaper in town

Main Question:

What is the readability level of your hometown newspaper? Does national newspaper, such as USA Today, have higher readability level than your hometown newspaper?


The primary objectives of this project are to learn how to use random numbers to collect data, organize data, display data and write a statistics project report.


According to Dr. Fry’s Readability formula below, the readability of an article depends on the average number of words and the average number of syllables in a sentence. For an article if every 100 words have 8 sentences and 120 syllables in average, then according to the Fry Readability Formula, the readability of that article is at second grade level.

It was told that the readability of newspapers is lower than 5th grade level. This project is to test the readability of your hometown newspaper. In order to complete this project, you need to collect data from your hometown newspaper to know how many syllables and how many sentences in average per 100 words of your hometown newspaper. Notice that you need to use random numbers to get unbiased data to make a convincing conclusion.

1. Select a copy of newspaper. (Which copy of the newspaper is representing?)

2. Select articles of the newspaper. (Which articles of the newspaper are representing?)

3. Select 30 sentences from the articles you selected. (Which sentences are representing?)

4. Count number of words and syllables of each sentence. (How to count words and syllables of each sentence? (How many words and syllables for the phrase ’16 GB thumb drive for $24.95?’)

Your data should be a table as following:

Word count Syllable count

Sentence 1 Xxx Xxx

… Sentence 30 Xxx Xxx

Total Xxxxxxxx5. Create frequency distribution and histogram for your word count and syllable count.

6. Calculate average number of sentence and syllables per hundred words.

The total word count /30 = average word count per sentence

N = 100/average word count per sentence = number of sentence per 100 words

The total syllables count/30 = average syllables count per sentence

M = N*average syllables count per sentence = number of syllables per hundred words

Apply N as vertical coordinate and M as horizontal coordinate to the Fry Graph Readability Formula, you will find out the readability level of the newspaper.


1. Document how your solutions of the question I suggest follow each activity to convince readers that your data are representing.

2. There is no right or wrong conclusion. As long as your research designs are logical and you can convince your readers, you have a good project.

The Fry Graph Readability Formula

Edward Fry developed one of the more popular Reading Formulas – the Fry Graph Readability Formula. Fry, who worked as a Fulbright Scholar in Uganda, also helped teachers to teach English as a Second Language (ESL) for a few years, from 1963 and onwards. During his early days, Fry developed readability tests based on graph [A Readability Formula That Saves Time, Journal of Reading (1968)]. This graph-based test determined readability through high school; it was validated with materials from primary and secondary schools and with results of other readability formulas.In 1969, Fry extended the graph to primary levels. In his book Elementary Reading Instruction in 1977, Fry extended the graph to test through the college years. Fry advised that an individual’s vocabulary continues to grow during college years, yet the reading ability varies depending on the individual and the subjects taught. 

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