To find out which of the UK's national newspapers has the best readability, I chose a news story at random that was recently covered in each of the newspapers.

I tested the readability of each newspaper's article using my own online readability testing tool.

The news articles tested

I only tested the readability of the news article - not the whole page - to prevent the scores being skewed by e.g. the navigation system on each page.

It's worth noting that the articles were tested on the day the story broke. It seems that most of, if not all of the stories have been edited since. Often the title of the piece has changed. In some cases, the authors have changed or since been identified.

Readability Indicators Used

Scores were given for the following readability indices:

Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease is a 0-100 scale where a higher score gives a greater ease of reading.
All the other indicators are based on US school grade level system e.g. a score of 4 suggests 4 years of schooling is needed to understand the article. A score of 10 suggests that a 15-16 year old would understand the text.



Times Guardian Independent Daily Mail The Sun
Flesch Kinaid Reading Ease 75.1 69.9 69.5 71.1 73.4
Flesch Kinaid Grade Level 5.5 5.2 6.8 6.5 5.1
Fog 7.1 7 8.9 8.3 6.9
SMOG 6.1 5.7 7.4 7.1 5.9
CLI 11.3 12.5 11.5 11.7 12.6
ARI 5.7 4.7 7 6.9 5.5


  • The Times, Guardian and The Sun are well matched for readability
  • Each is rated as top for 2 out of the 6 indicators measured
  • The Independent is consistently worst for readability - the scores suggest a better/longer education is needed!
  • The Daily Mail is in the middle ground throughout

Text Statistics

Times Guardian Independent Daily Mail The Sun
Sentences 184 278 488 239 85
Words 1989 1669 6380 2973 680
Complex words 192 180 760 336 76
% Complex words 9.65% 10.78% 11.91% 11.30% 11.18%
Words per sentence 10.81 6.96 13.17 12.62 8.44
Syllables per word 1.43 1.47 1.46 1.45 1.47


The Independent provides the most in-depth analysis.

  • It also uses the most "complex words" - with 3 or more syllables
  • You'll need to print this out and sit with a cup of tea somewhere.

The Sun is very concise and to the point.

  • You'll be able to quickly scan through the article on the website in a glance
  • It's written in a style that suits the web.

And the winner is...

The Sun!

  • The easy to read, bite sized format is perfect for use on the web
  • They got it right first time!
  • Other newspapers have since largely corrected their less readable text. Noticeably the Daily Mail. Their article now scores highly for readability

One last thing: Though this can be perceived as a glowing endorsement of The Sun, it's just a bit of fun. I prefer to get my news from the BBC News website and I know, I've not even bothered to compare the readability of their article.

Test the readability of this post!