Contents of the FOGFIND.DOC file
* FogFind *
* Version 2.61 *
P. O. Box 91016-199
Baton Rouge, La. 70816
FogFind Ver 2.61 Page 1
T A B L E O F C O N T E N T S
Prologue .................................... 2
Introduction ................................. 3
FogFind ...................................... 5
Using FogFind................................. 6
The Command Menu ............................. 8
F1 - Change Logged Drive ..................... 9
F2 - Display Reading Level ................... 10
F3 - Change Directory ........................ 11
F4 - Floating Reading Level................... 12
F5 - Mark and Process Text ................... 13
F6 - Terminate Program ....................... 15
F7 - Word Count .............................. 16
Remember ..................................... 17
Special Features ............................. 18
Appendix A: The Formula ...................... 19
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Jean stopped in the hall. He read the nameplate
on the office door -- "W. Hannah, Vice President,
Marketing". Jean nervously flicked a few imaginary
specks from his coat. "Tap-Tap-Tap," he knocked.
"Come in," a voice grumbled. W. Hannah, V. P.,
Marketing, flipped through the Wall Street Journal as
Jean entered and set a slim report on the mahogany desk.
"Here's the report you'd asked me to prepare on the
Hannah's eyes never left the Journal as he reached
for the Directions proposal, hefted it, and pushed it
"Too short, do it again. Put more words in it."
The gruff response was a dismissal; Hannah turned to
the mutual funds as Jean left the office, rushing to add
words to a report that hadn't been read.
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While the above vignette is fictional, you may be
familiar with similar situations in real life. Too
often, the quality of a piece of writing is judged by how
many words it contains. The more words, the better the
writing. The longer the sentences, the better the
This attitude was reflected in most business and
government writing for many years (and still is in many
cases). Lately, however, a reader revolt has been
brewing. "If this writing is so good, then why do I have
so much trouble reading it? Why does it give me
headaches? Why do I keep putting off reading it? Why do
I find myself reading the same paragraph over and over
again? WHY CAN'T I MAKE ANY SENSE OUT OF IT?"
Some people now feel that writing should be judged
by how effective it is and not by how many words it
contains. If you can't read it easily, then the writing
is not effective. Since effectively relaying information
is vital, many organizations are seriously looking for
ways to improve the quality of their writing.
Some groups have tried creative writing or grammar
classes. These classes are designed to improve a
person's writing. Creative writing classes spur the
imagination, while grammar classes stress the
building-block approach to writing.
There is a third technique designed to improve your
writing. This approach judges the "readability" of
writing. It grades writing from the reader's viewpoint
by asking, "Is this document easy to read?"
If you've ever struggled through the 1040 Federal
Tax instruction booklet, you can appreciate that writing
can be difficult to read. The Federal Tax instructions
are confusing -- and people don't like to read confusing
Why are the 1040 instructions so confusing? The
writing is grammatically correct. The Tax instructions
treat the subject in as creative a way as possible. Yet,
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these instructions fail the third test. They are a
collection of long, complex sentences and words. The
writing is dreary and "unreadable". Most readers simply
cannot tolerate this. It "confuses" them.
Complex subject matter does not have to mean complex
writing. In fact, a good writer should strive for the
opposite. If the subject is complex, then keep the
writing as simple as possible. The reader will have
enough trouble just digesting the subject matter. You
don't want to swamp him by forcing him to decipher the
Researchers have been studying the characteristics
of readable writing for about 50 years. They have
devised several formulas to evaluate writing; most of
these formulas deal with sentence length and word
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The "FogFind" program rates the complexity of writing
as an average grade level (elementary, high school,
college) at which the text could be easily read. For
instance, a Reading Level of 9 suggests a 9th grade
To make this more meaningful, a recent story in "The
Wall Street Journal" indicated that many executives are
most comfortable reading at a 7th grade level. This does
not mean that business writing should be "baby-writing"
of the "See Bill. See Jane" variety. However, it does
suggest that simple, concise writing is much more
effective than complex writing.
Most successful popular writing grades below a 13 on
the READING LEVEL scale. As the level rises, people will
find the text more and more difficult to read.
Government and business writing often rates a very
high Reading Level. This high level suggests that people
will have trouble reading and understanding the writing.
Complex subjects need not have high Reading Levels.
For example, consider "The Wall Street Journal". A prime
example of clear and concise coverage of complex
subjects, the Journal averages a Reading Level of about
11. (Ironic how our Mr. Hannah appreciates clear writing
in his WSJ yet demands complex writing from his
Note that a low Reading Level does not mean a piece
of text is "good" writing, only that it is probably easy
to read. However, most of what you consider "good"
writing probably will not have high Reading Levels.
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"FogFind" accepts a text file and grades it on
complexity. You have a certain amount of flexibility in
how you decide to grade the file. You may grade a chunk
from the beginning of the file, or just from selected
subsections. You can also print a "floating reading
level" alongside a condensed version of your text file!
"FogFind" doesn't use the grading formula devised
by the Department of Defense; instead, it uses an
algorithm that better reflects the "real world". This
algorithm is a slightly modified version of the Gunning
Fog Index. "FogFind" accepts ASCII text files as well as
WordStar files, WordPerfect files, and many other popular
word processing program files. The text should contain
mostly English sentences. Long tables, such as product
descriptions and prices, extracts of computer programs,
like COBOL data structures, or frequent sections of
dialogue will skew the Reading Level.
"FogFind" is not copy-protected. To copy
"FogFind", place the program diskette in drive A;
place the diskette you'd like to copy to in drive B. From
DOS, issue the following command:
COPY A:FOGFIND.COM B:
If you have a hard drive system, then place the
"FogFind" program diskette in drive A and issue the
COPY A:FOGFIND.COM C:
(assuming that C: is the hard drive)
"FogFind" is now installed. To execute, first
make sure that FOGFIND.COM is on the default drive. From
the DOS prompt, enter:
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You'll see a title screen introducing "FogFind".
Press any key to continue.
"FogFind" begins by listing the directory of the
default drive. If the directory listing is short enough
to fit on one screen, "FogFind" enters a "ready" state and
waits for you to press one of the function keys F1, F2,
F3, F4, F5, F6, or F7.
Hard disk users may have too many files in their
subdirectory to list on one screen. If the directory
listing needs more than one screen, you'll be prompted by
a message on the bottom of the screen. The message says:
"[PgDn] for next page, [PgUp] for previous, [Enter to stop listing"
(NOTE: If you have more than 512 files in a subdirectory,
"FogFind" will terminate with an error message. If
this causes a problem, try splitting your large directory
into two or more subdirectories.)
If you press the PgDn key, the directory listing
will scroll to the next available page of file names. If
you are already on the last page, nothing will happen.
The PgUp key scrolls you to the previous available
page of file names. If you are already on the first
page, nothing will happen.
When you have finished scrolling through the file
names, press the Enter key (the Return key). This forces
"FogFind" into the "ready" state. Only when you are in the
"ready" state can you successfully press F1, F2, F3, F4,
F5, F6, or F7.
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THE COMMAND MENU
FUNCTION KEY ACTION
F1 Change Logged Drive
F2 Display Reading Level
F3 Change Directory
F4 Floating Reading Level
F5 Mark Text to Process
F6 Terminate Program
F7 Word Count
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F1 - CHANGE LOGGED DRIVE
Function key F1 keys the routine that changes the
default drive id.
When you first execute "FogFind", the logged drive is
the current drive. For example:
SCREEN LOOKS DEFAULT DRIVE
LIKE THIS IS
A> FOGFIND A
B> FOGFIND B
C> FOGFIND C
A> C:FOGFIND A
When you initiate "FogFind", it will display the
directory of the current drive. Any file you wish to
process MUST be in the current drive of the current
This means if you have a floppy-based system with
"FogFind" on drive A and your text files on drive B, you
must make file B the default drive BEFORE you can process
any of your text files.
You can do this by making B the default drive before
you begin "FogFind"; you can also do this within "FogFind"
with function key F1.
If you press F1, you'll be prompted to enter a one
letter drive ID. If you press the carriage return
without entering anything, "FogFind" will leave the default
If you do enter a one letter drive ID, "FogFind" will
try to make that the current drive. If the drive ID is
invalid, "FogFind" beeps you with an error message and asks
for a new drive ID.
If you change the drive ID successfully, "FogFind"
displays the directory of the diskette on the new default
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F2 - DISPLAY READING LEVEL
This option tries to scan the first 50 sentences in
a text file. It displays the results on a graphic screen.
You're first prompted to enter a file name. If you
hit a carriage return
If you enter nothing, "FogFind" returns to the menu
and waits for you to press another function key.
If you enter a file name, "FogFind" hunts for that file
on the current drive. If the file isn't found, "FogFind"
beeps you with a warning and asks you to re-enter the file
When "FogFind" successfully finds the file, it tries to
read the file. (NOTE: "FogFind" results are only meaningful
for text files. It's possible to process a non-text file,
such as a .COM or an .EXE file -- of course, the results
will be meaningless.) "FogFind" reads the text file and
begins calculating a reading level.
"FogFind" processes the text file from the beginning of
the file until it reaches the end of the file OR until it
counts 50 sentences (whichever comes first).
After processing the text file, "FogFind" generates a
graphic display showing the reading level. This graphic
display shows the typical reading levels of several
popular magazines. The reading level for your text file
displays on the right-hand side of the scale; it also
prints on the bottom of the screen.
You can press a "Q" if you wish to terminate "FogFind".
If you'd like to process more text files, press an "M" to
return to the main menu.
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F3 - CHANGE DIRECTORY
This option is for hard drive users. When you
initiate "FogFind", the program begins using the current
directory. For most floppy-based users, this will be "\";
most floppy-based users will never change this.
However, hard drive systems often use different
subdirectories. "FogFind" uses function key F3 to let you
change the directory name.
When you press F3, "FogFind" prompts you for a new path
name. A null response leaves the directory unchanged. If
you enter a directory name, "FogFind" tries to make that name
the current directory. If it fails, you'll be beeped with
a warning and a chance to enter another directory name.
If "FogFind" successfully changes the directory, it
displays a new directory list of the files within the new
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F4 - FLOATING READING LEVEL
The Floating Reading Level option prints a condensed
version of your document on your attached printer.
Alongside the condensed document is the "Floating Reading
The reading level is refigured every 10 to 15
sentences. This lets you monitor the reading level
throughout your document. You can spot trouble areas where
the reading level gets too high; you can also watch for
monotonous writing -- this usually happens when the reading
levels don't change much through your document.
Press function key F4; "FogFind" prompts you for a file
name. A null response returns you to the main menu. If you
enter a file name that "FogFind" cannot find on the current
drive, "FogFind" beeps you with a warning and a request for
another file name.
If "FogFind" finds the file you've entered, it will begin
to process the file. As it processes the file, it begins
printing the floating reading level on your printer
(IMPORTANT!! Be sure your printer is attached and turned
The condensed document consists of two or three words
from the beginning and end of every fifth sentence or so.
This should be just enough so you can spot where you are in
a complete list of your document.
Every third line or so, the floating reading level
prints alongside the condensed sentences.
Be careful when you use this option. Occasional "high"
reading levels don't necessarily mean a problem. In fact, a
"high" reading level every now and then helps change the
pace in a document; many people find this helps them read
the document by making it more interesting.
This option continues processing until it reaches the
end of your document.
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F5 - MARK AND PROCESS TEXT
(NOTE: This option only works with a PRINT-IMAGE text file
or a plain ASCII text file. Most word processors let you
create a print-image of your text file on disk.)
This option lets you select and scan subsections of
your text file.
Select function key F5 and "FogFind" prompts you for a
file name. If you press carriage return without entering
anything, "FogFind" returns to the main menu. If it doesn't
find the file on the current drive, "FogFind" beeps you with a
warning and lets you re-enter the file name.
When "FogFind" finds your file, it tries to load the
entire file into memory. "FogFind" uses all available memory
to do this and will load as much of your document as it can.
Once "FogFind" loads in the document, it switches to a
display showing the beginning of your document. You can
use the following keys:
F1 - Mark a boundary of text
F2 - Begin processing between two boundaries
Shift-F2 - Special case of F2 (see below)
F3 - Terminate and return to main menu
PgUp - Scroll display up
PgDn - Scroll display down
Up Arrow - Move cursor up
Down Arrow - Move cursor down
Use the PgUp and PgDn keys to scroll through your
document. When you see the spot from which you'd like to
begin processing, use the up and down arrow keys to move
the cursor to that line. Once you've done that, press the
F1 key. This marks that line as one boundary of selected
Use the PgUp, PgDn, and up and down arrows to move
the cursor to the end of the section to process. Press
the F1 key again; this marks the other bound of selected
You may only mark two bounds. If you press F1 again,
you'll get beeped with a warning message. You're asked if
you want to change the beginning and ending marks or if
you want to leave them alone. Press "N" to leave the
marks as they are. If you press "Y", then the beginning
bound is set to the line the cursor is currently on.
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Once you've marked your two bounds, press either
function key F2 or Shift - F2 to begin processing.
"FogFind" begins scanning from the beginning of the
subsection you've marked.
When you select function F2, "FogFind" discards words
from the beginning mark until it reaches the end of a
sentence. Once it's found a sentence end, it begins
normal processing beginning with the next word.
"FogFind" does this to eliminate skewed readings caused
by sentence fragments at the beginning of a subsection.
One side effect is that if a subsection begins with a
complete sentece, that beginning sentence is discarded.
You can get around this by using Shift-F2 instead of
F2 to begin processing. Shift-F2 doesn't try to discard
sentence fragments; instead, it begins all processing at
the beginning mark.
Be careful selecting between F2 and Shift-F2. In
general, use F2 when your block begins with a sentence
fragment; use Shift-F2 when your block begins with a
Once the subsection is processed, "FogFind" switches to
a graphic display showing the reading level for that
subsection. If you are finished with this text file,
press the "Q" key to quit back to the main menu. If you'd
like to mark and process more sections of the same text
file, press a "T".
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F6 - TERMINATE PROGRAM
When you press function key F6, "FogFind" terminates
and control passes back to DOS.
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F7 - WORD COUNT
When you press function key F7, "FogFind" counts all the
words in the selected document. (See definition of "WORD" in
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The Reading Level is only a measure of what people
consider easy reading. It is only meaningful for normal
current-day English business writing. Poetry, songs,
dialogue, and foreign or historical writings are
completely different matters.
The Reading Level doesn't measure whether the
writing is good or bad, interesting or dull, enjoyable
or irritating. It tries to measure whether or not the
writing will tire the reader because of the way the
words and sentences are assembled.
Writers can use this mechanical measurement as a
tool to aid them in analyzing and improving their
writing. Their success depends on their writing skills
and on how effectively they use this tool.
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This particular version of "FogFind" has two special
features. Both features are activated by including a
parameter at execution time.
The first special feature causes "FogFind" to always
use monochrome control characters, even when it's running
on a color graphics board (IBM PC Portable people, this
means you!). Activate this feature by issuing the
FOGFIND P or
The second special feature has to do with the
Floating Reading Level. Ordinarily, "FogFind" prints to the
default LST device. However, you can force "FogFind" to
print the Floating Reading Level to a disk file. Simply
include the desired disk file name as the SECOND parameter
when you execute "FogFind". For example, try:
FOGFIND P DISKFILE.TXT
If you are not using the first parameter, but you
still wish to direct printer output to a disk file, you
must enter a dummy first parameter. For example,
FOGFIND X FLOAT.PRN or
FOGFIND ZZ READING.PRT
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APPENDIX A -- The Formula
Okay ... I give up. Everyone wants to know the
formula used in "FogFind".
I've been reluctant to release the formula, thinking
that the formula wasn't really all that important. I felt
the important part was how your writing compared to the
Anyway, some one finally pounded through my head that
knowing the formula would make it a lot easier to change
your writing habits to look more like the benchmark
writings. Makes sense, now that I look at it.
Anyway, here are the main parts of the formula --
Average Sentence Length -- This one's pretty easy.
It's the number of words divided by the
number of sentences.
Word -- Not always what you think. For example, I
don't count capitalized words, nor do I count
a string of numbers. I also skip over many
abbreviations (ex., Mr, Mrs, Dr, Sgt, etc).
A word must also have at least one vowel.
Sentence -- Again, not always what you think. A
sentence is a string of words followed by a
delimiter. A delimiter is one of the following:
. , ; ! ? : --
Hard Word -- In general, a word with three or
more syllables. There's some fudging when the
word is artificially extended with an 'er' or
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The definitions are out of the way, so here goes --
The formula is:
Reading Level = (Average Sentence Length +
(Number of Hard Words per 100 words)) * 0.4
So what does that tell you. If your reading levels are
high, try cutting down on your sentence lengths. Break
some compound sentences into simple sentences -- use more
semicolons, use more dashes. Also, use less thirty-five
cent words. Don't say "This residence is inhabited by the
Jones family". Say "That's the Jones's house."