The Sidebar Card Guide

The Acrolinx Sidebar makes it easy for you to create amazing content. As you write, Acrolinx shows you how to tune your content for your audience with just a few clicks. From tweaking terminology to tightening your text, the Acrolinx Sidebar helps you create content that your audience will love. When Acrolinx finds some issues, you'll get the results as cards in the Sidebar. Each Sidebar card offers you guidance but you can decide what to do with each issue.

The appearance of the Sidebar differs depending on whether you have Targets enabled or are using a Guidance Profile to check your content.

Not sure if you have Targets enabled? Don't worry, there are two ways to find out.

  • In the Options tab of the Sidebar, you can see if a Target or a Guidance Profile is selected.


  • Open the Scorecard and search for Checking Information. If it's not there, you're checking with Targets.

The Sidebar Cards Color Coding

For each issue, Acrolinx displays a colored card. The colors help you to identify the different issue types at a glance.

The color of the Sidebar cards will differ if you've enabled Targets or if you use a Guidance Profile to check your content.

TargetsGuidance Profile
Depending on what goals are in your Target, you might see the following colors:Depending on your Writing Guide and Option settings, you might see the following colors:

The Issue Cards

Here’s what you can do with most of the Sidebar cards:

Highlight the issue in your content.To see the issue highlighted in your content, click the title of the issue in the Sidebar card.

View your options.

To see your options, click on the three dots on the right side of the card.

Select a replacement.

The replacements Acrolinx suggests appear in green. To insert a suggestion that fits, click it. If there are more than three replacements provided, click  to display the other possibilities. Then, click the replacement you want.

To help you with your decision, you'll see a check mark next to preferred terms and an exclamation next to admitted terms. Preferred terms appear at the top of the list of suggestions before admitted terms.

You'll only see these icons if there are any preferred or admitted terms that relate to your issue.

Replace all.

To replace all occurrences of the issue with the replacement you want, select the option Replace all occurrences and click the fitting suggestion.

Ignore an issue.

To temporarily ignore the issue and remove the card from the list, click the icon.

Ignore an issue in the whole document.

If you want to temporarily ignore all identical occurrences of the issue, click the Circle double backslash symbol icon. Acrolinx then hides all cards that correspond to the same issue.

Contribute a term.

You can send a term to the terminology database. To contribute a term, hover over the card and click the arrow icon. A comment field will open where you can enter why you want to include this term in the database.

Add a term to a permanent spelling exception list.

You can add the term as a permanent spelling exception so that it won't show up as a spelling issue again. You'll only see this option for spelling issues.

There are three different lists of spelling exceptions. You might not see all of them if your Acrolinx administrator has disabled some lists.

Allow this word when any person checks the same document that you’ve checked.

Guidance Profile or Target
Allow this word when any person checks with the same Guidance Profile or Target that you’ve selected. 

Language (only with Guidance Profile)
Allow this word when any person checks with the same language that you're checking with.

Get more information.

The cards often provide a helpful explanation of the found issue. For more details, you can click MORE INFORMATION.

Alternatively, you can hover over the card and click the info icon. 

See the issue location

Sometimes the cards in the Sidebar show you where to find the issue in your content. In the example on the left, the spelling issues are in a list and a table respectively. This helps you to locate issues faster.

Follow requirements or recommendations.

With Targets, you might notice the icons Required  or Recommended . This is a quick way to tell if the issues for a goal count toward the Acrolinx Score.

Whether a goal is required or recommended depends on the goal you’re checking with. If a Sidebar card shows a suggestion or guideline as required, the issue will affect the score. Recommended cards are quite literally a recommendation. You can see the guidance, but it won’t count toward your score.

Learn more about goals in Get Started With Goals.

The Analysis Cards

If you have Targets enabled, you'll see a section called Analysis at the bottom of your Sidebar. Analysis cards refer to the document as a whole and provide commentary rather than specific, actionable guidance.

To see the Analysis cards, click the arrow right next to the section name to expand it.

Analysis Cards ExampleDescription

The metrics in the Analysis cards show you the scores for each of the characteristics that make up the tone of your content. Click below to get more information on each English language metric. The number to the right of the section header let you know how many cards are available.

Clarity Index

The Clarity index tells you how clear your text is.

Sentence length and syllables per word don’t tell the whole story. So, the Clarity index also looks at linguistic factors. You might know these as embedded sentences, complex verb forms, passives, difficult words, and much more.

The index ranges between 0 and 100. You can interpret the values as follows:

80–100Very simple to read
40–60Moderately clear
0–20Very difficult to read

Informality Index

The Informality index tells you how informal your text is.

Informal writing sounds a lot like how we speak. It’s relaxed and colloquial. You address the reader in a casual way. For example, marketing text for a hip product would probably be informal. Legal papers or official government documents would typically be on the formal end of the spectrum.

If you use a lot of verbs and pronouns relative to the number of nouns and adjectives, Acrolinx tends to score your content as informal.

Acrolinx also looks at specific expressions. For example, Latin expressions come across as formal, while slang is informal.

An occasional sentence fragment will raise your Informality index.

The index ranges between 0 and 100. You can interpret the values as follows:


Liveliness Index

The Liveliness index tells you how lively your text is.

A lively text is exciting and compelling. It engages the reader. How lively you want to write comes down to how you want your audience to see you. You might aim for a very lively blog post. But lively texts can be inappropriate depending on the text type!

If your text has a lot of questions, exclamations, and quotations, Acrolinx tends to score it as lively. Addressing the reader also lifts the index, as does referring to yourself. Your Liveliness index will drop if you use passive tense or certain dull expressions.

The index ranges between 0 and 100. You can interpret the values as follows:

20–40On the dry side

Flesch Reading Ease

Flesch Reading Ease is a classic readability metric. It’s probably the most commonly cited and used of all of them.

It uses the sentence length (number of words per sentence) and the number of syllables per word.

The scores are generally between 0 and 100. You can interpret the values as follows. (See also Flesch, Rudolf. "How to Write Plain English". University of Canterbury.)

90–100Very easy to read (Easily understood by an average 11-year-old student)
80–90Easy to read (Conversational English for consumers)
70–80Fairly easy to read
60–70Plain English (Easily understood by 13- to 15-year-old students)
50–60Fairly difficult to read
30–50Difficult to read
0–30Very difficult to read (Best understood by university graduates)

The Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level and Flesch Reading Ease are calculated the same way, but the results are presented differently.

Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level

The Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level is a classic readability metric. It’s one of the most commonly cited and used of all of them. The metric uses the sentence length (number of words per sentence) and the number of syllables per word.

The scores correspond to a U.S. grade level. You can also think of it as the number of years of education required to understand a text.

School LevelDescription
5th gradeVery easy to read (Easily understood by an average 11-year-old student)
6th gradeEasy to read (Conversational English for consumers)
7th gradeFairly easy to read
8th and 9th gradePlain English (Easily understood by 13- to 15-year-old students)
10th to 12th gradeFairly difficult to read
CollegeDifficult to read
College GraduateVery difficult to read (Best understood by university graduates)

The Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level and Flesch Reading Ease are calculated the same way, but the results are presented differently.

Some Sidebar Cards Look a Bit Different

Sometimes Acrolinx finds an issue but can't suggest a replacement or can't replace it from the Sidebar. But don't worry, Acrolinx still guides you through your content. The Sidebar cards offer you a lot of information that helps you solve these kinds of issues.

Here’s what the Sidebar cards tell you in certain situations:

Sidebar CardsDescription

Style and clarity issues

Acrolinx can't always suggest a replacement for some types of issues, especially style and clarity issues. For example, Acrolinx doesn't suggest anything when the issue covers a whole sentence. In this case, Acrolinx just tells you to improve the sentence. But it's up to you to decide how to improve it.

Cards with subcards 

Some cards show you more than one issue. Acrolinx sometimes combines issues that occur in one area of your content and belong to the same guideline. That way, you see fewer cards per guideline and can easily keep an overview. 

When you click on a card, Acrolinx highlights the whole location area. You can also click on the gray boxes in the issues list to navigate directly to the specific issue. We call these boxes subcards.

These cards often show up with the goals Tone and Findability.

Inactive card

Sometimes Acrolinx checks part of your content but can't highlight the issue or automatically insert suggestions. This happens when your content is protected in some way. For example, when your content is read-only, has restricted access, or is digitally signed.

It can also happen when there’s a limitation with the Integration, for example due to an editor's API limitations. When this happens, the Sidebar shows a padlock icon below the check button. If you hover over the padlock, you'll see the following message:

Often, you can still edit each issue directly in the text.

Grayed-out card

The Sidebar cards can appear grayed out. This happens when you've edited your content and the card isn’t up-to-date anymore. You might want to run another check to refresh your Sidebar.

You might also see a grayed-out card if you've clicked on a card with a padlock icon. This means that Acrolinx can't highlight or replace the issue. In this case, you can still read all the information you need to edit your content directly in the text.