How To Avoid Long Sentences

How To Avoid Long Sentences

How to avoid long sentences is important for successful writers. Good writers impact their readers quickly with clear ideas. The ideas are expressed in short sentences and few interruptions. Reading audiences range from school children to academic professors. All reading audiences benefit from concise statements rather than long, complex sentences.

Why You Should Avoid Long Sentences

Why should you avoid long sentences? Shorter sentences promote successful communication. Most people cannot easily process sentences complicated with several ideas. A single idea conveyed in one short sentence appears and sticks to the reader’s mind more easily. A reader sees the concept with greater visual clarity better than reading longer sentences carrying a train of related notions. Parts of a complex idea are more easily grasped when presented individually better than grouped in a longer sentence. The reader can then build up the simple ideas to the complex idea structure more successfully.

One Idea Per One Sentence

As stated above, write sentences with one idea to be more readable and impactive. Most people will be bogged down with long, complex sentences with connected ideas and supporting clauses. They will not be able to absorb the main point because of the apparent distractions of subordinate ideas. Instead, break up complex thoughts into easily expressed short sentence units that contribute to the main point. Readers will more effectively track with your thinking.

Use An Active Voice

Use an active voice in the sentence structure. This easily points out the actor in a sentence. Passive voice sentences can seem evasive regarding significant actors in a contract agreement, for example. Passive voice sentences usually take more words to express, which renders a writing lengthier than necessary.

Use Bullet Points For Lists

Use bullet points to list several things in an organized way. Instead of listing many things in a continuous sentence, using bullet points will display all the listed items in an easily scannable way. As an example, rather than mentioning how to avoid long sentences by stating one idea per sentence, using an active voice, using bullet points for lists, and avoiding run-on sentences, instead write such a list this way:

Avoid long sentences by:

· stating one idea per sentence,

· use an active voice,

· use bullet points for lists,

· avoid run-on sentences.

Avoid Run-On Sentences

Avoid run-on sentences. These are different from long sentences, which are sometimes necessary. But run-on sentences are never necessary. Examples of run-on sentences are:

· I like ice cream, I make my own ice cream.

· The weather is gloomy, overcast skies depress me.

Using better grammar, better sentence structure, and coordinating conjunctions, these are better written in these possible ways:

· I like ice cream so much that I make my own.

· I like ice cream; I make my own ice cream.

· The weather is gloomy. Overcast skies make me depressed.

· The weather is gloomy; overcast skies depress me.

Avoiding run-on sentences by breaking them up into smaller sentences especially contributes to the main goal of avoiding long sentences.


Avoiding long sentences is important for keeping your readers’ attention and making your message clear to them. This practice is critical for contracts and proposals in the business world. Rather than confusing the audience of a federal government contractor, capture their imagination easily and quickly. Avoiding long sentences will ensure this goal. Impressing your readers with your ideas is the goal of writing in plain, simpler language.