May 28, 2017

The long and the short of it

Build drama, create rhythm by varying sentence length

Short sentences are best.

But make every sentence simple and short, and your copy will read like “See Dick run” primers.

The long and the short of sentence length image

Sometimes bigger is better Most sentences should be short. But the occasional longer sentence can help you add rhythm and grace to your message. Photo by Jessica Ruscello

1. Make a point more powerfully.

“People read long sentences quickly,” says Jacqui Banaszynski, associate managing editor at The Seattle Times. “They read short sentences more slowly. Short sentences are power points in your copy.”

Take these powerful passages from a Pulitzer Prize-winning series in the New York Daily News about the plight of Sept. 11 rescue workers. Notice how the lead’s staccato sentences hit you in the chest like machine gun fire:

Read full article >

Related stories

“The ability to write clear, crisp sentences that never go beyond twenty words is a considerable achievement.”
— Joseph M. Williams, author of Style: Toward Clarity and Grace

Cut Through the Clutter in San Francisco

Learn to make every piece you write easier to read and understand in this concise-writing workshop

Read it and weep: More than half of all Americans have basic or below basic reading skills, according to the Department of Education’s latest adult literacy test.

Can you read me now?

Can you read me now? Some 50% of Americans struggle to read. How can you reach these audience members? Image by Giulia Bertelli

That means they can sign forms, compare ticket prices for two events and look up shows in a TV guide. But they have trouble finding places on a map, calculating the cost of office supplies from a catalog and comparing viewpoints in two editorials.

How well are we reaching these folks with our messages?

At Cut Through the Clutter — our two-day concise-writing master class on Aug. 17-18 in San Francisco — you’ll learn how to make every piece you write easier to read and understand. You’ll walk away with secrets you can use to reach more readers, measurably improve readability and sell tight writing to management.

Specifically, you’ll learn how to:

  • Write for Readability: Reach readers, improve communication — even boost the bottom line — by making your messages more readable.
  • Cut Through the Clutter: Measure, monitor and manage readability with a cool (free!) tool.
  • Take the ‘Numb’ Out of Numbers: Make statistics understandable and interesting.
  • Start Making Sense: Get the gobbledygook, jargon and gibberish out of your copy.
  • Get a clutter-cutting workout with Wylie: Boost readability by up to 300% when you practice your new skills on your own work.

Save $100 when you register by May 17.

“I often struggle with decision fatigue over what to cut out or how to best word information. This workshop gave me the tools to make decisions and edit quickly. Most importantly, I have more tools to write better and more efficiently.”
— Desirae MacGillivray, associate, Portavoce PR

Polish your skills at these Master Classes

Learn to Master the Art of the Storyteller, Catch Your Readers, Get Clicked, Cut Through the Clutter and more

Register for Not Your Father's News Release - Ann Wylie's PR-writing workshop in Chicago on May 18-19, 2017
Register for Get Clicked, Read, Shared & Liked - Ann Wylie's online-writing workshop in Portland on July 27-28, 2017
Register for Cut Through the Clutter - Ann Wylie's concise-writing workshop in San Francisco on Aug, 17-18, 2017
Register for Master the Art of the Storyteller in New York: Ann Wylie's creative-writing workshop in New York on Sept. 25-26, 2017
Register for Catch Your Readers in Kansas City: Ann Wylie's persuasive-writing workshop in Kansas City on Nov. 16-17, 2017
Register for Write For The Web and Mobile: Ann Wylie's online-writing workshop in Miami on Dec. 11-12, 2017

Rather bring Ann in to train your whole team?

Catch Ann on the road

Save when you book a workshop while I’m in your neighborhood

Ask about piggybacking on my upcoming engagements in:

  • Avon, Connecticut: May 31
  • Birmingham, Michigan: May 22
  • Chicago: May 18-19
  • Geneva: July 6
  • Johnson, Rhode Island: Aug. 7-11
  • Kansas City: Nov. 16-17
  • Miami: Dec. 11-12
  • New York: Sept. 25-26
  • Northbrook, Chicago: June 14
  • Plano, Texas: Oct. 19-20
  • Portland: June 6 & July 27-28
  • Roseville, California: Oct. 24
  • San Francisco: Aug. 17-18

Keep up with my calendar.

Please share this issue …

… with two of your colleagues by directing them to our current issue. Better yet, invite them to subscribe to Wylie’s Writing Tips. They’ll thank you — and so will I!