We scour the Internet every week to stay on top of news and emerging trends in marketing, technology, and culture. After looking back at everything we read last week, this is the one thing we don’t want you to miss.

This Surprising Reading Level Analysis Will Change the Way You Write

Ernest Hemingway—soldier, writer, American badass—wrote at a fourth grade reading level. One of the most read, most loved, downright legendary authors of all time did not try to impress people by writing in complex jargon or at a level that most would consider intellectual. And yet his work is both complex and intellectual.

Over on the Contently blog, Shane Snow writes about a project he undertook recently. He analyzed the works of numerous best-selling authors in the categories of fiction, non-fiction, and politics and found that most ranked below a twelfth grade reading level with a majority falling around an eighth or ninth grade reading level.

Now consider that 50% of Americans read at or below an eight grade reading level. That’s right: 8th grade.

If you use written communication for a living—and we all do (hello blogs, email, Twitter)—there’s an important learning here: we should embrace writing simply.

People freak out that teenagers are reading 5th-grade-level books, but it turns out that’s not a bad sign. Of course, we want to teach teens to comprehend higher reading levels than Harry Potter, but just because we can doesn’t mean we should be forced to waste time slogging through Ph.D.-level papers when the Ph.D.s could write more fluently.

Take a few minutes today and read the whole article. We think you’ll be glad you did.

(And if you dig the image above, check out more of Dan’s work.)