1c. Make some sentences
- Make the agent the subject. The agent is the
character who acts.
- Put the important action in the verb. (Don’t hide, or
imply, or suggest what happens. Reveal that activity in the
- Remove phrases between the subject and the verb. If
possible, weed out verbiage between the verb and the direct
- If your original sentence contains a subordinate clause
somewhere in the middle, turn the clause into a separate
sentence. One subordinate clause per sentence is OK--at the
beginning or (best) at the end.
- Explode a compound sentence (two parts joined by and)
into two sentences. Feel free to begin a new sentence with
- Replace a semicolon (;) with a period, and start a new
sentence. (No one can see the semicolon onscreen, anyway).
- Get to the gist of what you want to say.
- Do not make every sentence short. If you do that, you
may end up sounding like a sixth grader writing a report on
Too often inexperienced writers think that writing calls
for long sentences rather than short ones--just as they
believe that writing calls for fancy words rather than plain
ones. Both notions are wrong. –Kolln(2003)
In fact, there is nothing wrong with a long sentence if its
subjects and verbs match its characters and actions. But even
so, when we match subjects and verbs with characters and
actions, we almost always write a shorter sentence.
...What counts is not the number of words in a sentence,
but how easily we get from beginning to end while
understanding everything in between. –Williams(1990).
Nielsen (1997, 1998), Nielsen (1997a, 1997b, 1999f),
Other ways to trim that
1a. Cut any paper-based text by 50%.
1b. Use short words.
1d. Make most paragraphs
1e. Delete marketing
1f. Move vital but
tangential or supplemental material.
1g. Convert repeating
categories of information into tables.
1h. Beware of cutting so
far that you make the text ambiguous.
Resources on brevity
Taking a Position on
Heuristic Online Text
(HOT) Evaluation for Brevity