Keep Sentences Short



Keep sentences short. Over the whole document, make average sentence length 15 to 20 words. Muddle is more likely in a long sentence unless the construction is simple and well-organized. Learning to cut repetition and verbiage, using lists and headings properly, and shortening sentences can make the world of difference to your writing.

For example:

(1) Split and disconnect – Full stops enable readers to digest your latest point and prepare for the next.

Compare these two statements:

A. I understand that some doctors making night calls have been attacked in recent months on the expectation that they were carrying drugs and their caution when visiting certain areas in the south of the city has been very exacting and has even included telephoning the address to be visited from their car when they arrive outside the house.

B. I understand that some doctors making night calls have been attacked in recent months on the expectation that they were carrying drugs. Their caution when visiting certain areas in the south of the city has been very exacting. It has even included telephoning the address to be visited from their car when they arrive outside the house.

(2) Say less – Sometimes a sentence is lengthened by needless repetition.

Compare these two letters:

A. Dear Sirs
Trial of John Smith and James Jackson
Trade Descriptions Act 1968, Manchester Crown Court, 10.30 a.m.
Tuesday 7 June 2000

B. Dear Sirs
Trial of John Smith and James Jackson
Trade Descriptions Act 1968, Manchester Crown Court, 10.30 a.m.
Tuesday 7 June 2000

The above defendants are to be tried for several offences concerning the supply of motor vehicles to which false trade descriptions had been applied.


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Keep Sentences Short.
Use words your readers are likely to understand.
Use only as many words as you really need.
Prefer the active voice.
Use the clearest, liveliest verb to express your thoughts.
Use Vertical Lists to make complex materil understandable.
Keep Electronic Text Communication simple.
Put your points positively when you can.
Reduce cross-references to the minimum.
Try to avoid sexist usage.
Avoidable English Errors are so many.
Avoid fusty first sentences and formula finishes.
Put accurate punctuation at the heart of your writing.
Avoid being enslaved by seven writing myths.
Plan Before You Write.
Organize your material in a simple way.
Consider different ways of setting out your information.
Devote special effort to producing lucid instructions.
Use clear layout to present your plain words.






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