Published: Jul 14, 2016 12:00:00 PM

typewriter-vintage.jpgDiscussed prior on this very website, there's no singular tool for determining good writing structure. That determination comes from experience. You'll come to understand which tool is best for getting your point across to your adoring fans. Making that point clear is your responsibility, "rules" of writing be damned.

Strong, confident sentences are excellent vehicles for making a point. Long sentences can lose the point, meandering around. Shorter sentences provide less opportunity for misinterpreations and fuck-ups. This makes reading and processing the information less taxing.

I collect over-long sentences when I edit my company's blog. Here are 5 more examples demonstrating why short sentences are better than long sentences.

Short sentences make a clear point. Long sentences can meander, disrespecting the reader's time.

1. Avoid the word "of" when you can.

Original sentence:
This approach worked, the were able to use the the same landing pages and offers they built as part of their content strategy but have ads do the work of driving traffic. Search ads drove results while they waited to move up in organic search results and they found a combination of ads and good organic results worked the best.

Not counting the tyop near the start, these two sentences need to be four. There's no need for the first declaration to start a run-on sentence coupled with "ands" and "ofs." These weaken the through-line, demonstrated in "do the work of driving traffic." The verb "do" becomes the main action, which is too bad, considering "work" and "driving" are much stronger verbs in the same sentence. The "of" hurts the action.

Check the final sentence of my re-write to see how reducing the total words clarifies the point and strengthens the surrounding action "find."

Re-written sentence:
And it worked! EHS used the same landing pages and offers built during their content strategy. This time, the ads drove all the traffic. In the meantime, they continued strengthening their organic search results. In time, EHS found ads and organic traffic an excellent combination.

2. Misusing commas.

Original sentence:
Like Ubersuggest, Answer the Public is also a keyword generator, however, instead of just sharing variations of the keyword, you’re looking for it groups them by questions, prepositions and alphabetically.

These sentences try to bend the comma until it breaks. There's no need. The idea is down on the page. Why add in extra words ("also," "just") to extend the thought? That's the difference between writing for something to read or spoken. The original sentence here wouldn't be terrible to say out loud. In writing though, it drags. There are extra pronouns, demanding extra thought. I've chopped it into three sentences in the re-write.

Re-written sentence:
Like Ubersuggest, Answer the Public is a keyword generator. However, instead of sharing only keyword variations, it finds keyword groups. Answer the Public then sorts the groups by question, preposition, and alphabetization.


3. You've made your point.

Original sentence:
Keyword research can seem overwhelming, but adding a couple of the tools above to your marketing arsenal can help you make strategic decisions about the content that will be most effective to create for your business.

This is wonderful example. It's not a matter of cutting the long sentence's idea into two sentences, more a reassuring pat on the back to remind the writer they've made their point. No need to go on further. The back half of the sentence starting at "about the content that will be the most effective to create" is the moment where you point to the earlier moment "make strategic decisions." The job is done. The reader understands. They'll understand even closer with less elaboration.

You can even trim the front of the sentence, too.

Re-written sentence:
While keyword research can seem overwhelming, these tools can help you make strategic content decisions for business growth.

4. Fewer verbs "to be."

Original sentence:
This is nothing new, yet there’s still a lot of low quality content that exists.

Even in a sentence that's already short, you'll notice the verb "to be" only needs to happen once in nearly all cases. "Exists" is the verb we want in the back half. This is also two sentences. You might not hear it when you read it out loud, or say the words in conversation. In writing, you can keep things cleaner by removing "yet," "however," "nevertheless," and "but," as often as you can.

Breaking it into two sentenecs makes it delcarative. Notice how much more confidence is present. It makes an extra point this way.

Re-written sentence:
This is nothing new. A lot of low quality content still exists.

5. Write, read out loud, write again, and read it again.

Original sentence:
Your content is a big part of providing the journey a person needs to help self-diagnose whether or not your solution is right for them.

This is an easy mistake to make. There are so many extra words in here. A short re-read would clear them right up. Notice "of providing" and "to help." Are these necessary to make the point? If you read the sentence and ask what the sentence is meant to say, you will say something much tighter and cleaner. You might not say it on your first try, but you'll find a way. The original sentence reaks of trying to use specific words at the expense of clarity.

The concept is likely complex enough. Why make it even trickier? 

Re-written sentence:
Content is major deciding element for prospects. Their search for solutions goes through your content.

Those are just a few examples. I've reviewed another set of sentences if you're curious for more.

To recap, don't forget to use "of" sparingly. Second, don't use commas just to extend the thought when the sentence can end comfortably. By the same token, don't drag the sentence on if it's made its point. Next, always be conscious of how often you use the verb "to be." Last, re-read and re-write. It's just part of the process.

Good luck!

-- Alex Crumb
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